Majority of Refugees and Asylum Seekers Feel Welcomed

Majority of Refugees and Asylum Seekers Feel Welcomed by the Average Brit

The majority of refugees and asylum seekers feel the average British person welcomes them to Britain, according to a nationwide Ipsos MORI poll.

More than half of the people interviewed said that they either strongly agreed or tended to agree that the average British person welcomes refugees to the UK.

Half of all those interviewed for the survey about life in Britain said they are big admirers of the Queen, half also chose Princess Diana as their most admired Brit, while football hero Beckham attracted 41 per cent of the vote.

Interviewees listed the News as their favourite British programme, with the X-Factor and Eastenders coming in a close second and third place.

The results of the survey - carried out by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by Refugee Action on behalf of the Refugee Week partnership – come as Refugee Week Scotland launches today (Monday, June 14) with a countrywide programme of over 110 events including concerts, film screenings, debates, performances, exhibitions and sports tournaments.  

The survey also revealed that what refugees and asylum seekers most enjoy about living in Britain are the British people, football, the multicultural society and British TV.  When asked which characteristics they thought best represented the British, the top answers were friendly, polite and obsessed with football.

More than nine in 10 said they are involved in groups, clubs or organisations in Britain which include religious groups, education programmes, and local community and neighbourhood groups, as well as refugee community organisations.

Scottish Refugee Council spoke to Patience Tsungu, a refugee from Zimbabwe living in Glasgow, who said: “Most Scottish people are very welcoming and friendly.  Of course, I have come across a few who are not, but the majority of people here accept me for who I am.


“Glasgow has opened so many doors for me, support is always available for whatever you choose to do to maximise your potential but you also have to work hard to overcome the barriers to your goals.

“I feel I have slotted into Scottish life now.  The only thing I still have to get used to is the weather. But I have fallen in love with Glasgow I would not swap it for another city.”

The poll surveyed 327 refugees and asylum seekers across Great Britain from a range of countries such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. It was carried out for Refugee Week (June 14th-20th 2010), and included interviews with those seeking sanctuary across the UK.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Scottish people take a great deal of pride in the warmth of the welcome they offer to all. It is heartening that this poll finds that over half of refugees and asylum seekers find this is borne out in reality.  

“Though refugees and those seeking asylum are still facing significant hardships and have to overcome many hurdles, feeling welcomed helps give people a sense of belonging. The findings demonstrate that the majority of the general public really support those seeking sanctuary on these shores.

“The survey also gives a nice snapshot of the everyday lives of refugees and asylum seekers and shows the common bonds we share, whether that is a love of soap operas or football. “

Belinda McElhinney, coordinator of Refugee Week Scotland said, “Refugee Week is all about highlighting the experiences and contributions of refugees. It is also about bringing British and refugee communities together.


“This survey demonstrates that we all have more in common than we might at first think. It’s really encouraging to see that the majority of refugees and asylum seekers feel welcome here and that really is something to celebrate during Refugee Week. “



For more information, photographs and interviews contact Karin Goodwin/Clare Harris, Scottish Refugee Council Media Officers on 0141 223 7927/07734 030 763 or or Julia Ravenscroft, Press Officer at Refugee Action, on 0161 831 5454/07771 748 159 or at or


Notes to editors:

1. Organisations that assisted with the poll are:

Asylum Link, Babies of the World (BOW) Leicester, Bolton Community College, Central Lending Library Leicester, Liverpool Council, Manchester Refugee Support Network, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum, Pendleton Gateway, Praxis, Rainbow Haven, Refugee Action, Scottish Refugee Council, Students and Refugees Together (START), Trinity Centre, Welsh Refugee Council, Women Asylum Seekers Together London, Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester, Women for Refugee Women.

2.  Refugee Week 2010 takes place from 14-20 June. Refugee Week is a multi-agency project. The partner agencies currently include: Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, the Children's Society, City of Sanctuary, the Home Office, Oxfam, Refugee Action, Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council, STAR (Student Action for Refugees), UNHCR and Welsh Refugee Council.

To find out more please go to:


3. The Simple Acts campaign is about inspiring individuals to use small, everyday actions to change perceptions of refugees.


It consists of 20 actions that can be done by anyone and that encourage us to learn and do more with refugees. With every person who joins the campaign and does a small thing with and for refugees, we get a little closer to removing barriers between communities and to creating the kind of world we all want to live in.


4. Refugee Action is an independent, national charity working to enable refugees to build new lives in the UK. We provide practical advice and assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers and support their settlement through community development work. As one of the country's leading agencies in the field, Refugee Action has 28 years' experience in pioneering innovative work in partnership with refugees and advised more than 40,000 asylum seekers and refugees last year. For more information, visit


5. Ipsos MORI is one of the largest and best known research companies in the UK and a key part of the Ipsos Group, a leading global research company. With a direct presence in 60 countries our clients benefit from specialist knowledge drawn from our five global practices: public affairs research, advertising testing and tracking, media evaluation, marketing research and consultancy, customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Technical note

Findings are based on a total of 327 interviews, conducted face-to-face using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).  Interviews were conducted by Ipsos MORI between 27 April and 28 May 2010 in 29 centres located throughout Britain that are used by organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers. 

All respondents were refugees or asylum seekers, aged 16 years or over and at the point of interview, had been in the UK for 3 months or more since making their asylum claim.

Data are not weighted.