About Refugees & Asylum Seekers

For a growing number of people from across the world, Bryson Intercultural is the welcoming face of Northern Ireland. We make a positive impact on the lives of black and minority people and their families by helping them adjust to and cope with their new lives in Northern Ireland. 

Since May 2007 Bryson Intercultural’s Asylum Advice service has provided a reception facility for new asylum seekers. We specialise in independent advice and advocacy provision on claiming asylum and accessing support provision. We are contracted by Migrant Help UK and our Asylum Advisors are OISC trained.

Our advice work covers a range of specialist topics, including access to National Asylum Support Service (NASS) support, understanding the asylum application process, liaison with the Home Office, applying for Section 4 support and Section 96 support, administration advocacy, and referral to external support agencies. We also advise and signpost service users facing problems such as racial harassment, domestic violence, health concerns, destitution, and those who have experienced trafficking.

Bryson Intercultural is also the lead partner of the Vulnerable Syrian Refugee (VSR) Consortium in NI.

On 7 September 2015 the UK Prime Minister announced a significant expansion of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) Scheme to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian Refugees over a period of 5 years. The NI Executive signalled to the UK Government their willingness to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugees to NI under the VPR Scheme.  Northern Ireland’s response is led by the Department for Communities which works with a number of organisations to put in place the arrangements to resettle the refugees, including housing, healthcare and education.  The Department has also appointed a consortium of community and voluntary sector organisations with relevant experience in working with refugees and new entrants to operationally assist with the resettlement programme for Syrian refugees in NI.

Bryson Intercultural is the lead partner of the Consortium and takes the lead on co-ordinating the delivery partners, facilitating the planning for the arrival of each group of VPR Syrian refugees and co-ordinates the Consortium’s regional engagement with statutory and community sector on integration opportunities. The principle aim of this scheme is to support Syrian refugees relocated to Northern Ireland through the VPR Scheme, ensure their well-being and dignity after arrival and assist their integration into society.

Who are asylum seekers and refugees?

An asylum seeker is a person who has left their country of origin and formally applied for asylum (international protection) in another country but whose application has not yet been concluded. All asylum seekers who apply for asylum have a legal right to remain in the country of their application until the Government of the receiving country has fully considered their application and all rights of appeal have been exhausted. The UK signed the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol formally allowing people to enter the country to apply for asylum. In the UK, in general, asylum seekers do not have a right to work. They are not entitled to mainstream benefits, unless they have additional care needs or are a young person looked after by Social Services. After receiving a positive decision from the Home Office and Leave to Remain in the UK is granted, an asylum seeker is recognised as a refugee for a 5 year period.

A refugee is a person who has fled conflict or persecution, applied for asylum in another country and has been granted refugee status. They will have been recognised as needing international protection because it is too dangerous for them to return home. They are protected under international law by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which defines what a refugee is and outlines the basic rights afforded to them. In addition to refugees who come through the UK asylum process route, since 2015, an increasing number of Syrian refugees have been settling in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Northern Ireland has been a recipient of vulnerable Syrian refugees since December 2015. Those received under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme arrive with automatic granted refugee status for 5 years, have full access to employment and public funds, and right to family reunion.