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Supporting our clients: the impact of Covid-19 on refugees

This report was our first needs assessment conducted in May 2020 in response to the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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On 23rd March 2020 England went into lockdown in response to the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the UK. As for much of the population, the lives and needs of people of refugee background underwent massive changes. Many refugee integration charities have adapted their services to deliver remotely to respond to continuing and emerging needs, while others were forced to suspend delivery.  

In order to better understand the needs of our clients at this time Breaking Barriers conducted a needs assessment on our client base. The assessment focuses on the effects of Covid-19 on employment, priority needs, and access to technology. Whilst we recognise that these findings are not representative of the needs of all people of refugee background, we feel the report provides valuable insights into their needs at this time and the potential medium to long-term effects of Covid-19 on them.

Key findings

  • 36 %

    of our clients surveyed reported being furloughed compared to 27% across the UK

  • 32 %

    of respondents who were in work prior to the crisis reported that they are now unemployed as a result of Covid-19

  • 45 %

    of respondents reported that their needs had changed as a result of Covid-19

  • 82 %

    of respondents cited support with employment, higher education, training or English classes as one of their three most important needs