The leading organisation promoting integration of LGBTI refugees in the UK

Every year, over 1,500 LGBTI people claim asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexual orientation, and/or their gender identity, and/or the way their body looks. 

MRI’s uses a holistic approach to integration which includes three main programmes:  

1. Safe housing programme

  • MRI runs the only 2 safe houses for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, providing them with 2,920 nights free from violence every year.
  • LGBTI asylum seekers are often not safe if they are placed by the government in housing environments with people from their own home countries, or with people whose religious and cultural backgrounds hold extreme homophobic and transphobic views. Non-cisgender lesbians and gays, trans and intersex people often suffer from higher levels of violence and abuse. LGBTI asylum seekers have in the past reported being bullied and assaulted by other refugees with whom they share accommodation.
  • When refugee status is won, LGBTI refugees experience a rapid descent into poverty and homelessness. This is the result of layers of discrimination experienced because of their refugee status, race, sexuality, gender identity, intersex status and culture. These refugees carry the pain of surviving persecution in their country of origin, a trauma detrimental to anyone’s self-esteem and confidence, and worsened when the horror appears to have followed them to the UK with many reporting feeling unsafe around co-nationals and other heterosexual refugees.

These are some of the reasons why MRI runs safe houses dedicated solely to LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees.  For more information or to make a referral please email MRI’s Project Manager.

2. Social inclusion programme

This programme aims to build friendships and reduce the extreme isolation faced by both LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. It includes:

  • On-to-one support: For refugees and asylum seekers to come along for a coffee and chat, we can make an appointment for you. This service does not give legal asylum advice, although we emotionally support people while going through the asylum process.
  • Sista Sistar: A monthly peer support group for LBT women including those who have suffered from gender-based violence.
  • Weather the Storm: A weekly peer support group for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. The emphasis of this group is on using creative expression to overcome stigma and isolation.

For more information see this leaflet or contact MRI’s Director of Socio-Economic Inclusion.

3. Economic inclusion programme

This programme includes the delivery of:

  • Getting started: one-to-one support to those who become refugees to secure National Insurance numbers, access Universal Credit, open bank accounts and prepare moving on plans.
  • Employability Workshops: we work with various partners, including the private sector, to provide workshops around CV writing and interview skills.
  • Small Business: we offer tailored support to those LGBTI refugees who dream of setting up a small business in the UK. If you have an idea for a business, please contact us.

For more information or to make a referral please email MRI’s Project Manager. The social and economic inclusion programmes are delivered in partnership with the MRI Foundation (MRIF). In these programmes, MRI provides meeting space, referrals, admin and IT support whilst volunteers of the MRIF deliver most of the support groups and one-to-one sessions.