Quote marks icon

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children can be some of the most vulnerable in our care, having often faced dreadful exploitation from traffickers, and appalling conditions both at home and on their journey to the UK.

Vicky Ford, Families Minister July 2022

Frequently Asked Questions about Refugees

Who are refugees?

Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and are outside their country of origin and as a result require international protection.

Refugees are defined and protected in international law.

The 1951 Refugee Convention is a key legal document and defines a refugee as: “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Crucially, under international refugee law, recognition as a refugee is declaratory and not constitutive. This means one becomes a refugee upon meeting the criteria of the 1951 Convention, regardless of formal recognition. This recognition occurs before formal determination of refugee status.

In our context, we refer to "child refugees" because every young person arrives at Baca under the age of 18 and therefore, they represent the core focus of our work. This designation aligns with the UN definition mentioned above.

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who flees their home country due to war, persecution, or danger, where their government can’t or won’t protect them. This includes crisis caused by natural disasters and climate change. An asylum seeker is in the process of claiming protection in another country.

What is the difference between an asylum seeker, a refugee and a migrant?

Asylum Seeker: A person who has left their country and formally applied for asylum in another. Until their refugee status is determined, they are known as an asylum seeker. In the UK, they lack the same rights as refugees or British citizens, for example, they face working restrictions.

Refugee: A person is officially recognised as a refugee after a successful asylum claim in the UK.

Migrant: A migrant moves countries for reasons other than a direct threat, like work and education, and can return home.

Does everyone have the right to seek asylum? 

Yes, Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The right to seek asylum in another country is a universal human right alongside the right to life, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial without discrimination.

Do people have to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach? 

No, they do not. The 1951 Refugee Convention, which is the foundation of international asylum law, does not require that a person must claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. 

Which countries do refugees come from?

Over half of all refugees and other people in need of international protection come from just three countries.

Syrian Arab Republic 6.5 million

Afghanistan 6.1 million

Ukraine 5.9 million

Which countries host the most refugees?

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Türkiye each hosted 3.4 million refugees, the largest populations worldwide. The majority of refugees in Türkiye have fled from neighbouring Syria where the civil war has lasted for over a decade. Germany was third with 2.5 million, followed by Colombia with slightly less than 2.5 million, including other people in need of international protection. Pakistan hosted 2.1 million refugees.

The world’s wealthiest countries such as the US and the UK host only 24% of the world’s refugees. The remaining 76% are hosted by poor, low and middle-income countries.

Additionally, 70% of refugees live in places immediately bordering their home country. For example, Jordan hosts 1.3 million refugees from neighbouring Syria. 

What are "safe routes" for refugees?

Occasionally, refugees can apply to a government scheme and arrange to travel to a safe country before they arrive in that country. These schemes organised by governments to support refugees fleeing war and persecution are known as safe routes. However, there are very few of this kind which function properly and are available to the vast majority of refugees. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Refugees living in the UK

How many refugees are there in the United Kingdom? 

According to the UNHCR, there are 328,989 refugees living in the United Kingdom (2022). Refugees therefore make up less than half a percent of the overall population (0.49%).

Where do refugees in the UK come from? 

Refugees come from countries affected by war and crisis. By the end of 2022, over half of the refugees living in the UK came from Ukraine (55%), with others coming primarily from Iran, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan. 

How long can refugees live in the UK? 

Refugees are granted five years leave to remain initially. After five years, they can apply to become settled in the UK if they meet certain criteria.

Why do refugees take irregular routes to get to the UK?

There are very few functioning safe routes accessible to the majority of people fleeing war, persecution, human rights abuses and other crises. Most refugees have no other way of seeking protection in the UK than to make dangerous journeys.

How long can refugees live in the UK? 

Refugees are granted five years leave to remain initially. After five years, they can apply to become settled in the UK if they meet certain criteria.

Can refugees work in the UK? 

Yes, refugees are entitled to the right to work. In fact, refugees' right to work is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, meaning they have the right to work in all 149 countries that have signed it.

However, refugees with the right to work often encounter practical barriers to doing so. These include developing English language skills, administrative barriers, and unfamiliarity with specifics of UK job market.

Can asylum seekers work in the UK? 

Asylum seekers waiting for their claim to be processed cannot work in the UK unlike countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Portugal. People seeking asylum could positively contribute to the economy through consumer spending and paying tax. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimates that allowing people seeking asylum the right to work would increase tax revenue by £1.3 billion, reduce Government expenditure by £6.7 billion, increase GDP by £1.6 billion, and improve the wellbeing of those individuals if the ban were to be lifted.

Our Work

Who is an Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child and what happens to them when they get to the UK?

Upon arrival in the UK, unaccompanied children, often having journeyed in small boats or lorries, initiate their asylum claims, becoming an Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child (UASC), a person under 18 years old, who is applying for asylum and is separated from both parents, and not in the care of a guardian. The local authority at the point of entry takes responsibility for their care, or they may be transferred through the National Transfer Scheme. If a local authority provides care and accommodation for a child, they then acquire “looked after” status. Accommodation options include foster care, children’s homes, semi-independent housing, and shared living spaces, some of which lack registration or inspection. Due to local authority placement shortages, the Home Office has turned to housing them in hotels, alongside adults. In this accommodation the safety and well-being of these vulnerable young people are at risk.

Who do you support?

Baca work with children who arrive in the UK alone, without their families, having fled their home country and often experienced trafficking. They arrive at Baca aged 16 or 17-years old and stay until 18, or later if awaiting asylum decisions.

What is Baca’s role?

Baca offers a safe home, education, training, legal and medical guidance and social and emotional support. We empower young refugees by inspiring hope and enabling the young people to develop independence and overcome deep trauma.

How do you choose who to help/ where do your referrals come from?

We fill rooms in our houses quickly due to an urgent and huge need for our services, which is why we are hoping to expand to reach more child refugees. We only receive referrals from the local authority, social services and the NRF (National Referral Mechanism) for child trafficking victims.

What happens if their claim is rejected?

A refusal does not mean that returning is safe. If an asylum case is initially refused, an individual has the right to appeal with fresh evidence and over 25% of asylum refusals are overturned on appeal.

How long does an individual young person stay in Baca houses?

Tailored to each individual, there’s no set limit. On average, young people stay for two years, ensuring they’re ready for independence.

Can I get help from you or refer someone to your organisation?

If you’re a young person, check the ‘Young Person’ section of this website. For advice, organisations can contact us at info@bacacharity.org.uk.

Do you partner with other organisations or charities?

To deliver our services, we work alongside social services, local authorities and other frontline providers. If you’re an organisation or charity that would like to work collaboratively to deliver our work, please get in touch at info@bacacharity.org.uk.

Stories behind the headlines

Read Ahmed's story to learn about the journey of a separated child at Baca.

Getting involved

What can I do to help Baca?

Please donate to support us, if you can, or explore more ways under ‘Get Involved’. For corporate engagement or championing our work, or any other questions or ideas, please email fundraising@bacacharity.org.uk.

I’m with a business/ group/ faith group/ school/ university/ network, how could we learn more and/ or support your work?

Yes, absolutely, we’d be happy to hear from you. If you’re a school, faith group, or university, click here. If you’re a business or corporate, head over here. And if you would like to talk this through further email fundraising@bacacharity.org.uk.

Can I donate items?

While money is most effective, we accept item donations depending on our young people’s needs, we will communicate appeals for these things on social media. If you’d like to donate items to help refugees and asylum seekers, we would recommend contacting your local City of Sanctuary group: https://data.cityofsanctuary.org/groups/list. If you are in Leicester, you can donate items to Open Hands: https://www.openhandsleicester.org.uk/ and in Nottinghamshire, NNRF: https://www.nottsrefugeeforum.org.uk/food-donations/.

Can I meet the people you work with?

To protect identities, it’s rare for supporters to meet young refugees to ensure their safety.

Can I visit Baca?

Office or house visits aren’t feasible, but we can arrange meetings in person or via call. Just email fundraising@bacacharity.org.uk to coordinate.

Can I volunteer or work for you?

Yes! Head to the jobs and volunteering section on the Get Involved page and email info@bacacharity.org.uk for more details.

Our organisation

How big is Baca? 

Baca has 37 members of staff members, volunteers, interns and a Board of Trustees. Our operations span the East Midlands and East of England, from our offices, youth centre and houses.  

How is Baca funded?  

Baca’s work is funded in several ways. As “looked after” children, we receive money from the local authority which goes towards housing and food allowances for our young people (this covers around 75% of our work). The other 25% of our income is needed for the holistic side of our work which includes education, therapy, trips, sports. This is raised from grants (trusts and foundations); faith and other groups; individual givers and corporate partnerships. For more information on supporting our work go to Get Involved or email fundraising@bacacharity.org.uk.

How do you measure and monitor impact? 

We track progress through the Pyramid Plan, focusing on personal safety, emotional well-being, engagement with education, employment and training, physical wellbeing and social engagement. For more on our Theory of Change see here. Annual Impact Reports are also available in Impact on our website. 

Are you a religious charity? 

While our name is inspired by Psalm 84 of the Bible, we’re not a religious charity.  

We support young refugees regardless of their religious beliefs and preaching has no place in our work. We will support the young people we work with to find a church, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship, if this is something they want.