The Refugee Council is pleased to announce the launch of a new freephone Infoline today, funded by the National Emergencies Trust, to support refugees and people seeking asylum who are experiencing hardship and isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The service builds on the Refugee Council’s Covid-19 signposting project in London, which has supported refugees and people seeking asylum in crisis since lockdown began in March 2020.

The freephone Infoline aims to connect refugees and people seeking asylum with detailed information about local specialist support relevant to their particular needs during the pandemic. It is a signposting and referral service only and does not provide advice or guidance. We also welcome calls from people supporting refugees and people seeking asylum.

Refugees and people seeking asylum who are living in England can call 0808 196 7272 and leave a voicemail with their name and telephone number. Our Infoline team will endeavor to call them back within three days. Individuals who have not yet made a claim for asylum, and those whose claim has been refused, are also welcome to call the Infoline.

The National Emergencies Trust also provided funding for services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Refugees and people seeking asylum can call 0808 196 7274 in Scotland and 0808 196 7273 in Wales. In Northern Ireland, Bryson Care will provide tablet computers to those seeking asylum, and supply mobile internet access in accommodation to enable users to access essential services which COVID-19 currently inhibits.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:

“The new Infoline will be a vital resource for refugees and people seeking asylum who are facing enormous practical and emotional challenges as a result of the pandemic. We’ve seen a major surge in demand for our support services since lockdown began in March, with many people experiencing high levels of mental distress, social isolation and destitution. Many more are unaware of where they might turn for help, which is why the Infoline will be so crucial.    

Refugees and people seeking asylum face significant disadvantages in normal times, so, in the midst of this extraordinary national crisis, we are very grateful to NET for enabling us to provide this vital lifeline.”

Mhairi Sharp, Chief Operating Officer of the National Emergencies Trust, said:

“The Refugee Council’s new Infoline will offer an incredibly important service, at what is an extremely challenging and uncertain time for refugees and those seeking asylum. We’re extremely pleased to have been able to support it with Coronavirus Appeal funding, thanks to the generosity of the public, our corporate partners, and trusts and foundations.”

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