Refugees and asylum seekers in Cumbria

The UK has an ongoing commitment to refugee resettlement, offering places of safety to vulnerable refugees in need of protection.

The Home Office works with local authorities to deliver a range of resettlement schemes to support provide support to refugees from Syria, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Afghanistan and most recently Ukraine.

Cumbria has played its part by welcoming refugees since 2017, responding with a collective county-wide multi-agency approach. Cumbria County Council is the lead authority acting on behalf of the Cumbria Leaders Board. This was  agreed at the County Council Cabinet meeting on 15 December 2016.

Over 250 individuals have now been resettled across Cumbria.

Asylum seekers

When someone flees their own country, for example due to war, they can claim asylum as they arrive in another country.

An asylum seeker will then have their claim for asylum assessed (which can be a lengthy process, during which they have limited rights).

Once submitted, an asylum request will have one of three outcomes:

  • Full refugee status (indefinite leave to remain).
  • Temporary leave to remain for between 1-5 years 
  • A refusal, applicants may appeal against a refusal and can remain in the UK whilst appealing. If the appeal is unsuccessful they must return to their home country.

Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker.

The 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees anyone the right to apply for asylum in another country that has also signed the Convention. It also guarantees that they can remain there until their claim has been processed.

Cases can sometimes be open for a significant amount of time, meaning that asylum seekers and their children can be uncertain about whether they will be granted refugee status for a long time. 


Refugees are people who have been granted asylum and have the right to stay in the UK. This means they have the right to work and live in the UK and can access benefits and social housing. 

What happens when someone gets a decision on their asylum claim?

If someone receives a positive decision and is recognised by the Government as a refugee, they have 28 days until their support from the Home Office ceases and they are evicted from their Home Office accommodation. They need to find alternative accommodation, find work, or establish a welfare benefits claim. 

Those who get a negative decision from the Home Office ("refused asylum seekers") are expected by the Home Office to leave the UK. Households without children lose support and are evicted after 21 days.

People coming to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme have the same rights as a refugee but do not formally have this status.

Local support

As part of the support provided to refugees, offers of help from members of the public, organisations and private businesses are very welcome as these will help with the resettlement of refugees.  Offers of support will be co-ordinated centrally to ensure they are used as effectively as possible and can include a wide range of things such as children's toys and books, clothes, befriending and a variety of goods and services. 

We know that community groups and local volunteers are keen to offer support. Refugee action groups have been established in many parts of the county and play a critical role in supporting families in the county and beyond.

Our approach is to ensure refugees are informed about what is on offer in their communities and introductions will be made to local groups if refugees want to access this support. 

Cumbria Community Foundation also operates the Welcome Fund which refugees can apply to for support. 

Support for children and young people in need

Young, unaccompanied refugees are vulnerable and may be traumatised following their experience. Some may need a foster place in a loving home as they start to rebuild their lives.

For more information about how you could support children and young people in need, visit our Fostering website.

Please note that not all children who need a foster place will be refugees.