Helping refugees in Europe: Your questions answered
Find out how you can help desperate refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants who have been forced to flee their homes.
What is the British Red Cross doing?
The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for refugees across Europe.
We’re supporting our partner Red Cross national societies in Italy and Greece. Volunteers and staff there are helping refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants arriving on their shores.
Red Cross teams are providing basic necessities, such as food, water and health care. They are also working to make sure families are reunited.
In the UK, the British Red Cross supports thousands of refugees and asylum seekers every year. We provide everything from food and clothing to small amounts of cash for emergency items. We also offer volunteering and learning opportunities.
What can I do to help?
Will you collect goods? Can you transport goods I’ve collected?
No – and here’s why. The Red Cross doesn’t collect or send items such as clothing, blankets or food.
We buy and store relief items in countries where disasters are likely to happen. We then buy fresh supplies in bulk from nearby countries – which is faster, cheaper and helps boost local economies.
Very often the cost of transporting a ‘free’ donation from the UK is more than the total value of the donation itself.
We purchase goods of a standard specification and quality so we don’t jeopardise our principles of impartiality and neutrality. Everyone receives exactly the same things, no matter who they are.
For this reason, we only accept donated goods for resale in the UK, through our chain of shops. Check out which items our shops can accept. Find your nearest shop by entering your postcode in the ‘find your nearest’ search box.
The best and easiest way to help the Red Cross is to support us with a donation of money. Money can be instantly transferred and converted into whatever is most needed, anywhere in the world. One of the most efficient ways to give is by making a donation online.
The Independent has published a list of organisations that are accepting goods for refugees.
Can I volunteer?
We don’t send volunteers overseas. The British Red Cross is one of 189 National Societies that make up the Red Cross Movement. As each National Society has its own volunteers, we don’t send volunteers to other countries.
Not only does this save time and money, but local volunteers have the advantage of speaking the language, knowing the region, and understanding the culture.
We do recruit experienced professionals for our international work. Browse our current overseas roles.
If you would like to support our work as a volunteer, there are many different UK volunteering opportunities.
What is the Red Cross doing in Calais?
The French Red Cross is working with asylum seekers and refugees across the whole of France – with an emphasis on children and young people who have arrived in the country alone.
The British Red Cross is supporting Red Cross societies across Europe and beyond to help vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
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