About asylum

Want to learn more about the issues? Meet some of the asylum seekers we’ve supported, read the facts about asylum seekers and refugees, and about what it’s like to be seeking asylum.

Stories and Analysis from Refugee Action

Loading RSS Feed


Within the EU, complete freedom of movement is permitted for all law-abiding citizens. But outside of that, who is legally allowed to cross the borders from one country to another, and who is not?

People leave their home countries (‘migrate’) for many different reasons – to join family, to earn more or to enjoy a better standard of life. And throughout history too, people have been forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution.

Since 1951, 144 countries worldwide have signed up to an internationally binding UN agreement to protect refugees in search of safety. Asylum seekers, then, are a particular and distinct category of migrants who face serious threats to life and freedom and have come to another country to claim their legal right to protection.

The UK has long and honourable tradition of welcoming people from other countries in need of sanctuary. We became home for 10,000 Jewish children who escaped Nazi persecution in the 1930s Kindertransport scheme and offered sanctuary to 27,000 Asians fleeing Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1972. You may want to read this excellent briefing on immigration from the BBC, January 2020.

But globalisation is creating new and different pressures. In today’s UK, immigration and asylum have become hot topics. People worry about pressure on tax-funded services and see asylum seekers as part of the problem, forgetting our responsibilities under international law. The fact is, asylum seekers formed just 5% of all UK immigrants in 2016 (30,747 out of a total of 588,000).

One of SWVG’s roles is helping people get the facts and understand asylum issues better. This section offers a basic toolkit, including some plain English briefings and online resources.

For a detailed analysis of the asylum system in the UK and the ways it lets asylum seekers and refugees down, read our detailed report.

Looking for asylum and refugee organisations in other areas of the UK, or national organisations? Try https://www.asylumguides.org/maps-and-signposting.

Read the true story of what happened to one woman who applied for asylum, written by her SWVG visitor: Achieving Asylum … that golden moment

Useful resources, including for women and for children and young people, with a link to translate them, at  https://www.asylumguides.org/for-clients#resources-for-young-people 


Take a look at SWVG’s on-line introductory programme. There are three elements – about SWVG and how you might help; safeguarding; and about asylum. It’s the first step to becomng an SWVG volunteer, but anyone is welcome to use it to find out more about seeking asylum.

There’s plenty to do if you support SWVG’s aims, whether you want to be a visitor or teacher or to volunteer in another role. If you’d like to apply to be trained as a volunteer, here’s the SWVG Volunteer Application Form. Fill it in and send it to info@SWVG-refugees.org.uk