Refugee Week – Best Practices for Media

Refugee Week is an annual event, taking place from the 17th to 23rd of June, aimed at celebrating asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK with this year’s theme, ‘Our Home’.

Globally, in mid-2023, 110 million people worldwide had been displaced from their homes as a result of violence of persecution. In the UK, there were approximately 365,300 refugees with the conflict in Ukraine and Afghanistan having driven increases in these figures, from previous years.

In addition to the trauma that many refugees face, displaced refugees face many barriers in the places they settle. This includes cultural and language differences, public misconceptions, and discrimination, as well as gaps in education and work experience which can hinder refugees, looking to re-build their lives.

A snapshot of our work at PHA

We’ve worked with a number of NGOs and charities, working directly with refugees impacted by conflict. This type of work is critical to breaking down barriers and empowering refugees, therefore the media strategies we leverage, need to be both sensitive and effective.

An example of this, is our recent work with leading NGO JA Europe, who partnered with UNICEF to deliver ‘Uplift’, a programme dedicated to delivering education to displaced Ukrainians across 14 European host countries.

The programme included a focus on digital resources, to help reach displaced refugees on the go and bi-lingual skills-based lessons, to ensure inclusion.

We worked with case studies, of displaced Ukrainian refugees, including a young student who had gained confidence skills through ‘Uplift’ and a teacher from Ukraine, who had re-found her passion for the job, taking up a post in the programme.

How to handle case studies sensitively?

Case studies are highly effective for showing the tangible work an organisation has done or highlighting an important social issue.

But handling these case studies sensitively is paramount.

Often, it may be the first time that case studies are speaking to the media so it’s important to explain the process, ask for their consent to share their story with the media, offer anonymity where possible and guide them through what a media opportunity would look like.

For example, asking for questions and themes from the journalist beforehand to help the subject best prepare and highlight any sensitive areas, the case study would prefer to not discuss.

While journalists aren’t always able to share copy approval, with case studies and feature-based stories, copy approval is more likely and can help case studies feel both re-assured and supported.

Final thoughts

Awareness weeks such as ‘Refugee Week’ can work well for the media, but it’s vital that organisations engage with these weeks sensitively and with respect.

There also needs to be a long-term outlook – organisations should demonstrate how they work with refugees or the topics surrounding refugees all-year round, rather than just for the week alone.

This includes highlighting the social issues and barriers that refugees may face, the tangible work an organisation has undertaken to help refugees or calls to action around policy and provisions.

Written by Tara Baaj