Friends of Refugees London

Friends of Refugees London

At a glance


  • Refugees / migrants

Other details

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Geographical remit: 


Friends of Refugees London is a charity which aims to welcome and support refugees, asylum-seekers, and vulnerable migrants in London. We do this by providing befriending and advocacy services to help refugees as they settle into their new lives. We are experienced in supporting vulnerable refugees and migrants, and we work closely with a network of refugee organisations around London.

Friends of Refugees London works to reduce loneliness, to help refugees and migrants feel included and independent. Through our befriending scheme, we aim to make refugees feel welcome and part of their community, sharing our time, resources, social activities and networks. Befriending can help a refugee find their feet, give them access to a social network, and empower them to live independently and actively in their communities.

Our clients regularly tell us the value that having a befriender brings to their lives, giving them a sense of independence, agency and support. They appreciate having a friend to talk to, an advocate in difficult situations and someone to turn to for signposting and ideas. Our befrienders feedback that they love building new relationships, meeting new people from different backgrounds, experiencing new things and seeing their community through a different lens.

Our ultimate aim is to build inclusive and welcoming communities across London where refugees and other migrants are empowered and valued.


Befriending is a one-on-one, non-judgemental, relationship between a volunteer and a refugee or migrant (referred to as clients in this document) which is initiated, supported, and monitored by FoRL. It is:

  • A partnership; a welcoming and supportive relationship based on friendship, respect and equality
  • A place of trust, where clients feel safe and supported on their own terms
  • A support structure and point of contact, helping people get to know London and everything it has to offer
  • A chance for refugees to practise their English where required, learn more about British culture and traditions, and feel part of their new community
  • A commitment to an ongoing relationship and regular meetings which will benefit both the befriender and and their partner
  • A personal relationship, where volunteers see their client as a whole person, rather than by labels like ‘refugee’ or by their problems
  • A place for fun - it cannot be overstated how far a little laughter and enjoyment can go

Refugees and migrants, especially those newly arriving in London, very often do not know many people who can help, advise and support them - they may not be aware, for example, of the kinds of community or public services on offer, from libraries to public transport. Many have experienced traumatic events, or at the very least, may feel a sense of frustration and sorrow at having to start their lives all over again. There may be cultural differences which can lead to misunderstanding, frustration or exclusion. One-to-one befriending relationships not only help to reduce the social isolation that refugees may experience, but can increase self-confidence, promote independence, broaden social networks and help people to engage with their new lives. A simple walk in the park, a visit to the local market or a chat over a cup of tea with a friendly person can bring a sense of normality to someone whose life has been turned upside down. A friendly supporter accompanying them to an appointment can create real empowerment.

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