£10m funding ‘lifeline’ highlighted during Refugee Week

Support from London’s biggest independent charity funder for people coming to the UK in search of sanctuary has passed £10 million in three years.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder, has awarded 40 grants totalling £4 million for projects specifically aimed at supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants across the capital.

Meanwhile, over the same period, a further £6 million was awarded to 42 schemes which are partially aimed at people from those groups.

The milestone was passed as the trust marks Refugee Week, which runs all this week and celebrates the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“During Refugee Week we’re proud to highlight the work of our grantees who are providing a lifeline to people seeking refuge, who have often fled life-threatening danger in their home country and endured an arduous journey to get to the UK.

“The support they offer helps those coming here in search of sanctuary to meet basic needs such as food and accommodation, to create a new life for themselves and make a positive contribution to society.”

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver. It awards grants of over £30 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

It has also made an extra £200 million available over five years from 2021 to 2026 to support London’s charity sector – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk


More information on Refugee Week is at www.refugeeweek.org.uk

City Bridge Trust grantees helping refugees and asylum seekers

The Bike Project, based in Camberwell, received £71,200 from City Bridge Trust for its work donating bikes to refugees and asylum seekers from across London.

Fund-raising manager Ryshel Patel said: “The people we work with have had to deal with all kinds of issues including war, conflict, violence and persecution, and many have also endured really harrowing experiences on their journey to the UK.

“The bikes make their lives easier, enabling them to access work and medical and legal services and saving them money they’d otherwise have to spend on travel. It also has a really positive effect on their health and gives them a feeling of freedom.”

Breaking Barriers received £123,000 to provide holistic support for unemployed refugees across London, helping them build the skills and confidence they need to access meaningful employment and participate more fully in their new community.

Chief Executive Matt Powell said: “Many of our clients are hugely qualified and experienced but sometimes there are steps they need to take to ensure their qualifications are recognised here, which we can help them navigate.

“We’re able to help clients find stable, meaningful employment which matches their ambitions and experience, to help them understand the working culture here in the UK and to feel more confident and better connected.”

The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants is using its £192,910, five-year grant to fund staff and running costs for its ‘one-stop shop’ support service helping migrants with issues including accessing housing, healthcare and legal advice.

Head of fundraising and communication Anna Giokas said: “People often describe us as their family or their home, where they come when they need help. We’ve had great success stories, including helping people get refugee status, which opens up all kinds of doors in terms of getting a job, somewhere to live or a university place.”

Hope for the Young received £188,200 to provide a volunteer-led mentoring programme to young asylum seekers and refugees aged 16 to 25, who receive help with matters including improving their English, enrolling in education and accessing other services.

Chief executive Matt Blacker said:

“The young people we work with have often experienced persecution or war in their home country and some very traumatic situations during their journey to the UK, meaning they may find themselves in a situation of confusion and despair when they arrive here alone.

“Meeting regularly with their mentor can transform a young person’s life so they reach a position where they feel more stable and have a clear idea of what steps they need to take to achieve their goals. It helps them build the confidence and skills they need to make friends, become less isolated and settle into their communities.”

The New Cross Gate Trust received a £175,600 grant to provide English as a second language classes which will help hundreds of refugees in Lewisham and Southwark to boost their confidence and feel less isolated.

Centre manager Jill Mountford said: “One of the things that people really get out of the classes is the social aspect. It helps them to feel connected with people in the community and gives them a feeling of growing confidence and hope for the future.”

Sutton Women’s Centre received a £121,850 grant from City Bridge Trust to provide English classes to help women migrants and refugees acclimatise to life in the UK.

Centre manager Liz McGarry said: "The women we work with often feel isolated, struggle with the language barrier and don’t understand the culture here.

“Learning English gives our women confidence and choices. They take control of their lives and some have found jobs or education. The classes are instrumental in changing their lives in a positive way so they can contribute to society as a whole.”

Voices of refugees

- “Islington Centre is a family to me. They are the ones who help me with advice, orientation and make me comfortable with the situation I’m going through. Islington Centre is my home.” – Gloria, a political refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo

- “When starting your employment journey in a new country it’s a big challenge to convince HR that you have the right experience and skills to do the job properly. Breaking Barriers supported me with all that I asked for. I got a job as a structural engineer in railways. It was my best luck ever. I just got the job I love, where I love!” – Bahaa Eddin Ghrewati, from Syria

- “The Bike Project are my new family. With the help of my bike and volunteering in the workshop I was able to fill the gap left by not having my family here.” –  Sadegh, bike recipient and workshop volunteer

“The English course at Sutton Women’s Centre helps me to adapt in England. There is a great atmosphere and friendly people. The workers are very kind and ready to help. I am grateful for their work.” – Mah, from Iran

"I had an amazing experience with Hope for the Young. I felt like I was contributing to society in the way I really have wanted to for quite some time. I enjoyed making a difference in someone's life and assisting, especially in times when a lot was against the young person and doors were closed." – Nora, Mentor at Hope for the Young

"When you don't know something, a mentor can show you the right direction to achieve your goal. My mentor was brilliant, she was always there to help me." – Adil, Mentee at Hope for the Young.

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK –  www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, a charity founded over 900 years ago to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is today responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges. Its grants team, City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – awards over £30 million a year to good causes across the capital.

It has also made an extra £200 million available over five years from 2021 to 2026 to support London’s charity sector – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

 Tim Fletcher
Media Officer
City of London Corporation
07738 862229