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Can you tell what someone has seen by looking in their eyes? If you know that they’ve seen the truly terrible things people can do to each other, would you want to? When people come to Britain as refugees, they carry the loss of the lives they left behind with them. They also carry the memories of the violence and destruction that meant they could not safely stay in their country. They arrive with hope that their new home in Britain will give them a chance to rebuild their shattered lives.

Sadly, it’s not always that easy.

War, rape, murder: Ban's seen the worst of humanity. Will you show her the best?

“If you walked along the street you would see kidnapping and rapes right in front of you.”


After years of abuse, Ban escaped her violent marriage for the sake of her two young daughters. But as she tried to start a new life for her family in her native Iraq, the Saddam regime fell sparking bitter sectarian violence. Ban saw the country she loved spiral into chaos and lawlessness.  Desperate to keep her daughters safe, Ban made the biggest decision of her life: to leave the country. She sold everything she owned, down to the rings on her fingers. Then she paid for the dangerous drive to the Syrian border.

Unfortunately, the country she hoped would be a safe haven was anything but…

Ban and her daughters had settled into life in Syria. They made new friends, started school and had just started to put the horrors they’d witnessed behind them. Then conflict erupted and shattered their dreams. The bombs began to rain down – Ban’s daughter’s school was destroyed. They saw friends and neighbours killed in explosions and murdered on the streets. Ban’s daughters witnessed things no children should ever see.

Being given the chance to come to Britain meant Ban could offer her daughters safety and the hope of a future. “We couldn’t believe it when we were offered a new life in the UK – we were shouting, screaming,”

But things weren’t easy.

Ban waited 9 months before she could start English classes because of long waiting lists. The family’s first year in the UK was made difficult and isolating – basic tasks like shopping for food or paying bills seemed impossible because of the language barrier.

Determined to settle in, Ban struggled on, reading children’s books at the library and watching English TV to help her learn before she could join classes. Despite her every effort, Ban suffered appalling treatment as she tried to access help for her family.

“The man in the job centre said ‘You’ve been here four months and you should know how to speak English.’ I was crying.”

Luckily Ban met Samra, and everything changed

Samra, a Refugee Action caseworker, gave the family the support they urgently needed. She helped the family find a home and settle into life in the UK. She fought to get Ban’s daughters into school when they were told they’d have to wait and enrolled Ban in an English class. As Ban says: “She’s always available. As soon as I pick up the phone, Samra is there. Refugee Action has been very
good to us – helped us feel welcome and settled in.”

Knowing she has support has given Ban renewed hope for the future.

“It’s my dream to see my daughters have a good college, a good university and a good job. I’m really proud.”

With 84 refugees like Ban turning to us every single week, desperate for help, we need your support now more than ever before.

We believe in a kind, compassionate and welcoming Britain. A country where people who have seen the worst of humanity can take refuge and rebuild lives left in tatters. If you do too, please help us offer refugees the support they urgently need.

Help us provide life-changing support for people forced to leave everything behind. With your help we can give families like Ban’s:

A warm welcome
A roof over their head
Food, clothing and other basics
Help accessing English lessons
Help integrating into their community
Help finding work