Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Refugees are often fleeing from conflict in their home country

Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Asylum seekers and refugees are amongst the most marginalised and unfairly vilified people in our society. They are sometimes confused with people who are economic migrants but they are not the same.

Everyone has the right to claim asylum in another country. They may be fleeing conflict or political oppression. While their application is being heard, they may be given some basic accommodation. If their application is successful, they become a refugee. If their application is denied, they may lose their accommodation, and will be unable to work or claim benefits, even if they are appealing against the decision.

There are a number of local and national organisations dealing with refugees and asylum seekers in our area, such as the following:

Portsmouth City of Sanctuary offers support, food, English lessons and care packages

Portsmouth City of Sanctuary

Portsmouth City of Sanctuary runs a Refugee Hub, based at All Saints Church, Commercial Road, each week. For those who are claiming asylum and live in Portsmouth, they can offer English classes, casework support, and help with registering for local services. For details, click here.

Meet some of those who attend the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary Refugee Hub here.

Friends Without Borders

Friends Without Borders runs a welcome drop-in every Thursday from 10am-1pm at All Saints Church, Commercial Road, for any new asylum seeker, long-term asylum seeker and refugee. The charity has been running for over 25 years, supporting asylum seekers in Portsmouth.

It offers English classes, social engagements and activities and legal support. It can signpost asylum seekers to the Citizens' Advice Bureau, who attend each week, and Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan attends monthly to assist with Home Office enquiries. For details, see

Rural Refugee Network

The Rural Refugee Network was created by churchgoers and others in Hampshire to respond to the need to find private homes for refugees from Syria. The government had committed the UK to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement programme. This charity not only provided homes, but also a friendly welcome, some furniture and English lessons for these families.

Refugee Action

Refugee Action, local branch of the national organisations. Details of their offices can be found here.

The Unseen Women

Here's a film from Portsmouth City of Sanctuary, highlighting the plight of women who may be part of our community:

Ukrainian refugees

Our diocese has been working with the charity Citizens UK to offer accommodation to refugees who are fleeing from the the conflict in Ukraine. They were already running a project to sponsor refugees before the Ukrainian crisis, and have partners in Ukraine, Moldova and Poland who could identify refugees and organise transport to the UK. 

Citizens UK were looking to identify 1,000 hosts (or ‘sponsors’) across the UK to welcome Ukrainian refugees, via the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Our diocese found 50 of those hosts (individuals or families) in churches across our diocese. Find out more here.

The national Church of England has put together a Toolkit to help you to prepare for welcoming refugees. It brings together practical information about community sponsorship, prayer and advocacy, plus links to other information such as safeguarding. You can read their announcement about this here, and download the whole Toolkit here.

Reconnecting with loved ones

The British Red Cross can help people who have lost contact with their relatives as a result of conflict, natural disaster or migration. This service is free and confidential. They are committed to helping people without discrimination, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality or religion.

If someone has lost contact with family members in as a result of the International Armed Conflict and are worried about them, do try and contact them through normal communications such as telephone, mobile, and/or email. If they are still unable to contact family members, the British Red Cross may be able to help. Please do not hesitate to contact them to find out more about tracing a missing relative. You can find your nearest office by visiting They can offer advice and support through the process.

Download information posters in PDF format in English, Ukrainian and Russian.