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The Co-op Foundation mobilises help for Afghan refugees with £250,000 grant

By September 9, 2021February 9th, 2023News story

Refugee Action is thrilled to announce the award of a £250,000 donation from the Co-Op Foundation to support Afghan refugees, and refugees from elsewhere, who have fled to the UK for safety. This partnership will help us better respond to the needs of refugees in the UK and act as a catalyst for more groups, businesses and individuals who want to be part of helping Afghan arrivals rebuild their lives.

Together we will build a compassionate and welcoming UK for the future.

As you know, Refugee Action exists to help refugees and people seeking asylum who’ve survived some of the world’s worst regimes – just like those who have been evacuated and are continuing to flee Afghanistan. Even after arriving to the comparative safety of the UK, many people find themselves pushed back into crisis here. Homelessness, poverty and being banned from working are what many people seeking safety are facing.

We provide vulnerable people with the support they need to live again with dignity. Then we help them build safe, happy, and productive lives in the UK. The Co-op Foundation’s grant will enable us to:

  • Provide direct support and advice to people who’ve fled to the UK from Afghanistan and other countries through our dedicated and compassionate frontline services, and in collaboration with a nationwide network of community organisations.
  • Build public support to campaign for a more sustainable, compassionate and welcoming refugee protection system.
  • Empower refugees and people in the asylum system to influence the issues that matter to them.

A key part of Refugee Action’s mission is to work with refugees not for them. We empower people seeking safety to exert influence on the issues that matter to them. We work with a network of experts by experience, people who have direct experience of being a refugee or seeking asylum.

Here’s what some experts by experience had to say about this support and what it has meant to them:

“We are now settled in our new home, living in safety, free from fear. We can look at the future with hope. To Refugee Action’s supporters, we would say you are changing the lives of so many people with your support. All the advice and support we got from Refugee Action, it was amazing.” Pablo, who left Honduras 

“At Refugee Action I found so much support and encouragement. I started to feel that I was worth something. I was told that I can choose and shape my future. I still struggle with my past trauma, but I continued counselling so I can fully recover and achieve my goals. I am so indebted to the project for the support it gave me.” Maria, 14-years-old, who left Yemen

This grant is just the start of a collaborative national effort that the Co-op Foundation is calling for. Working together we will address the need for wider support in the UK to reform the refugee protection system and invite other funders, businesses and organisations to join this endeavour.

Nick Crofts, Chief Executive of the Co-op Foundation, said:

“The scenes in Kabul have made a big impact on public opinion, and we believe there is now an opportunity for funders and charities to work co-operatively to make a difference. Our focus is on immediate support for Afghan refugees in crisis and longer-term positive change for the wider refugee and asylum system.”

Refugee Action’s Chief Executive Tim Naor Hilton, said:

“We are so grateful to the Co-op Foundation and to everyone across the Co-op for their support at this crucial time. The scenes from Afghanistan, of people fleeing in terror from the Taliban, have united us all in horror and grief. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen first-hand the depth of that horror while we provided round-the-clock emergency support to evacuees from Afghanistan arriving to UK airports.

“Now we look ahead to the enormous challenge of ensuring everyone seeking safety in the UK from Afghanistan and around the world is welcomed, supported, and treated with dignity. So, there could not be a more welcome time to begin this vital new partnership with the Co-op Foundation and have a powerful voice join our urgent calls for a strong and compassionate refugee protection system.”

We would like to thank everyone at the Co-op Foundation, Co-op Group and all of its members for the amazing support. We look forward to charting the progress of the partnership as it builds. Together we will create a UK that’s more welcoming and fairer to refugees and asylum seekers.

If you’re interested in supporting our work through a company or company foundation, please contact Harbi Jama, on You can also connect with Harbi on LinkedIn at this link.