Skip to main content

FAQ about City of Sanctuary

City of Sanctuary UK is an organisation that has supported the development of a network of groups, which includes villages, towns, cities and regions across the UK, and others engaged in Streams of SanctuarySanctuary Awards and activities intended to welcome people seeking sanctuary.

City of Sanctuary contributes to building an ever broader social movement to ensure that all people seeking sanctuary within the UK are made welcome in our countries and that the aspirations of the Birmingham Declaration become a reality.

City of Sanctuary UK is an organisation that provides a focus for coordination and development of the network. This contributes to building a wider sanctuary movement.

In addition to undertaking City of Sanctuary activities and initiatives at a UK level, the role of the organisation is to ensure that there is good communication across the network, to coordinate decision-making and to help raise the profile of City of Sanctuary overall.

Our network includes groups, and others engaged in Streams of Sanctuary work, that are focused on bringing about both local and national social change.

The groups in our network are independent and have flexibility in determining how best to work towards the vision of City of Sanctuary but agree to follow certain principles. Several of them are charities themselves.

City of Sanctuary UK is an organisation that provides a focus for coordination and development of the network.

A Stream of Sanctuary encourages professionals within ‘communities of practices or interests’ to come together to embed the concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within their professions, sectors and organisations, together with other interested individuals (including people seeking sanctuary), groups and organisations.

Read About Streams to find out more or have a look at what’s going on via Streams and Group Activities.

FAQ about refugees

Disclaimer: The information provided in these policies/this section is intended for guidance only. It is not a substitute for professional advice and we cannot accept any responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting upon it.

You can find out the definitions of these terms plus links to the latest statistics on our Facts and Figures page.

Most people fleeing war and persecution move within their own country or move to a neighbouring country so that the majority of refugees are living in developing countries. 

In 2016, the UK received 30,603 applications from main applicants – 39,000 applications including dependants. This is considerably less than the number of applications received in many other countries, and makes the UK the sixth out of the EU’s 28 member states in terms of asylum applications. Germany received the highest number of applications (692,000), followed by Italy (117,000), and France (83,000) – together these three countries accounted for 75% of all applications made in the EU (UNHCR ‘Asylum in the UK’)

A 2010 study by the Refugee Council found that over two thirds of refugees did not choose to come to the UK. Refugees who did choose to come to the UK came mostly because of family, language, colonial connections, and a sense that the UK is democratic and tolerant country. They had little knowledge of the asylum process and the benefits available.

Asylum seekers are looking for a place of safety. At the end of 2016, 55% of the world’s refugees came from 3 countries – Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan (UNHCR Asylum Trends 2016)

You can see the latest statistics for asylum claims in the UK via our Facts and Figures page. 

In 2014, 59% of initial decisions were refusals. These initial decisions are often appealed (around 75%), and of these 28% of appeals were allowed. [UNHCR]. The high rate of successful appeals indicates problems at the point of decision making.

In some countries, such as Switzerland and Finland, over 70% of applications succeed. (UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2010). This doesn’t mean most people in the UK have no claim, it just means our system is harder.  When a woman who has suffered domestic violence and threats of honour killing or FGM from her family, she may be deported back to another part of her homeland. Her claim was not fraudulent, because it did not fit into the strict UN 1951 definition,  but her deportation is a personal tragedy.

It is difficult to provide evidence that you have been persecuted. People with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) often experience problems recalling details for their claim and have their credibility questioned as a result.

Whilst they are waiting for a decision on their claim, asylum-seekers are housed as part of a system that is separate from Council housing. These are usually ‘hard to let’ properties and the standard is often very poor. Single asylum-seekers are allocated a room in a shared house with others from different cultures and speaking different languages.  Sometimes they have to share a room with a stranger. Asylum-seekers are not allowed to work so rely on government benefits.

If someone’s asylum case is refused and their appeal rights have been exhausted, they will be evicted and their benefits cut (unless they have children under 18).  This happens even when they cannot return home for a range of reasons.

If someone gets refugee status, they have 28 days to find alternative accommodation, before their asylum benefits are cut and they are required to leave their house. They must enter the Council housing system if they want to apply for a Council house. At the same time, they may be applying for normal UK benefits. Many find themselves homeless and destitute at this time as they try to get paperwork in order.

Whilst going through the asylum process, asylum seekers receive £36.95 per week plus accommodation if needed.

This means that most live in poverty and may not be able to afford basic living expenses.

Research has shown that most asylum-seekers don’t know anything about welfare benefits before they arrive and had no expectation that they would receive financial support. 

Many refused asylum seekers cannot return home through no fault of their own. This may be because there is no safe travel route back to their country, their Government refuses to provide them with documents or  they are too ill to travel.

Just because an applicant has been refused asylum. it also doesn’t mean that it’s safe for them to return. Many asylum seekers have been denied protection in the UK even though the Courts ruled that it is too dangerous for them to be sent back. This leaves them in limbo, without status, but unable to return home. Refused asylum seekers who cannot return home find themselves destitute and vulnerable to exploitation with no right to work or support.