Why focus on asylum seekers and refugees' health?

A significant number of vulnerable asylum seekers currently live in the UK including the North West (NW) of England. According to the Refugee Council, UK (2017) the number of asylum seekers in the UK in receipt of section 95 asylum support at the end of Quarter 1 of 2017 stands at 39,365 with the North West hosting the largest number - 9,524 - in dispersal accommodation. The asylum seekers and refugees’ experiences have diverse impacts on their health as individuals and as families. While health issues affecting individual asylum seekers and refugees clearly may vary depending on problems related to pre-migration, the nature and duration of their journeys, and post-migration, there are common health concerns across all age groups. These concerns are usually complex problems and are extensively documented within the resource section of this hub.

It is widely known that the majority of health care professionals have limited knowledge of the health concerns faced by asylum seekers and refugees. In addition, there is a lack of coordination of available resources and services that provide information and support related to the health needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

This online resource hub has therefore been developed to provide a readily accessible and understandable information source to provide up-to-date, easily accessible information on the asylum-seeking process and role of professionals.

The development of the online resource hub has been underpinned by empirical research based on a participatory research approach. The respondents were professionals with extensive experience in working with asylum seekers and refugees; some of them were former refugees themselves. They explored and identified the key challenges and solutions related to the complex needs of asylum seekers and refugees and suggested the resources required to support and advance their rights and well-being. The concepts identified were categorised into themes, which were used as the basis for organising the contents of the hub.

Key definitions

It is very important for professionals to familiarise themselves with the key terms and definitions relating to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. Some common definitions and terms are used below

A Refugee

An Asylum Seeker

An Economic migrant

Unaccompanied minors (asylum-seeking children)

Exceptional Leave to Enter or Remain (ELE or ELR)


Family reunion