Empowering Refugees and Asylum Seekers to be active agents in change


Empowering Refugees and Asylum Seekers to be active agents in change

Our Members

Our members are community groups set up and run by people who are refugees and asylum seekers to support other refugees and asylum seekers who live across the North East region. They are known as Refugee-led Community Organisations (‘RCO’s). 114 RCOs have joined our organisation since we began in 2003.

Members gather at our AGM

Go to our Members page for profiles of our currently active members.

Our membership encompasses community mobilisers, activists and advocates from over 30 counties of origin who are taking the lead in civil society and being active agents for change. They are women and men, of many faiths, nationalities, ethnicities, languages and backgrounds who share a deep commitment to support the integration of refugees and asylum seekers in this region.

RCOs organise many different support activities, and range in scale from small, unfunded informal groupings to constituted, funded structures. The communities they support share experience or identity, for example their language, ethnicity, nationality, gender, where they live, or a particular challenge. 

Refugees and asylum seekers are a community of shared and unique experience. They face distinct challenges arising from the reasons they had to flee their country, their journeys to safety, and from lives framed by asylum and resettlement policy. These specific experiences and challenges are not experienced by voluntary migrants or non-refugee communities.

Becoming a member

RCOs do not need to be full members to join in our activities, benefit from our support or contribute to the Collective Voice. But they need to be a full member to have a voice in how the organisation is run and to decide priorities for action.

Membership is open to community groups and organisations based in the North East region that are set up and run by people who are refugees and asylum seekers to support other refugees and asylum seekers living in the region. All members are required to support the aims, values and objectives of organisation and follow the rules of its Constitution, policies and procedures.

If you would like to find out how to become a member please contact us at info@refugeevoices.org.uk or call 07918765480. All applications for membership must first be approved by the Board of Trustees and then ratified by the general membership at an Annual General Meeting.

Our Trustees

We are governed by a Board of Trustees who are elected by the membership from the membership.

Our Trustees share the experience of exile, the challenge of starting life again in the UK and the motivation to lead action to support others.

Rama, our current Chairperson

Our current Trustees are

Since our first Committee was elected in 2003, 53 members have served as Trustees – 26 women and 27 men from 24 countries of origin. We sincerely thank them for their valuable contribution and especially to the 10 members who have served as Chair: Amir, Dr Mohamed, Bini, Chester, Elizabeth, Mustaffa, Karen, Larry, Elham and Ramatoulie.

Former Chairpersons reunite on our 20th anniversary

Former Chairpersons reunite on our 20th anniversary

Trustees are elected for 3 years. They chose which Trustee will serve as Chair. They serve the interests of the whole membership and do not represent their RCO at meetings of the Board.

Our Staff

Our Staff provide support to our members across the region and organise our activities based on the priorities set by our members.

Our Constitution

Our constitution was signed in March 2003 by 17 founding member groups.

We became a registered charity in 2004.

In 2012 we were awarded Community Organisation of the year at the Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards.

In 2013 we were awarded Outstanding Small Organisation at the North East Voluntary and Community Sector Awards. Watch the film here.

‘The objects of the Association are the advancement of education and the relief of poverty, distress and sickness amongst asylum seekers and refugees in the North East of England and to that end to provide a mechanism for hearing the voice of asylum seekers and refugees by bringing together in council representatives of Refugee Communities working in the area of benefit’. From our Constitution 4th March 2023

Our Funding

We raise funding to support action and deliver change on priorities identified by our members.

We receive funding from Charitable Foundations that support the inclusion of disadvantaged or marginalised voices, equality, social and economic inclusion and social justice. We may occasionally take on a commission for specific piece of work where it matches our aims.

It is an honour to have been one of the Millfield House Foundation’s Strategic Partner organisations. We are very grateful for the support they have given us over 16 years.

We are grateful to all those who have funded our work, including The National Lottery Charitable Foundation, The Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Comic Relief, The Ben & Jerry Foundation, The Northern Rock Foundation, Arts Council England, Lloyds TSB Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Police & Crime Commissioners for Cleveland and for Northumbria.

Our Latest Annual Review

Click here to read about our most recent work 

How we began

Our organisation grew out of a project within the North of England Refugee Service (NERS). In 2000-1 NERS led  ‘A Trans-national Network: Hearing the voices of Refugees in Policy and Practice in the European Union’  for the European Union. Project findings highlighted the need for an effective mechanism and structure for hearing and enacting the voiced experience of refugees. 

The report finds ‘the necessity of recognising complementarity in the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders to the two-way process of integration. It is clearly evident that refugees themselves are a valuable resource with a vital and integral role to play in supporting the integration process. However, refugees can only perform this role if there is a commitment to developing effective mechanisms and structures for hearing and enacting their voiced experience. This would ensure that policy development is evidence based. The implementation of such an inclusive policy development model would ensure that refugees are practically enabled and empowered to be active agents in the process of their own integration rather than merely the target or object of it. Refugees must be enabled to be active agents in the process of integration policy development and its practical implementation in order for it to be effective’

We champion peer support

We support refugees and asylum seekers who take the lead in bringing change to their communities. We support people who are mobilisers, activists and advocates for their community.


If you have an idea to improve lives in your community, and want to join action for change, then get in touch with us today.



If you have an idea to improve lives in your community, and want to join action for change, then get in touch with us today.