5 meaningful ways you can help a refugee

Mother and son packing donations.

The war in Ukraine has unfortunately forced many Ukrainians to flee their homes to find safety away from the violence. Since the conflict began, it’s believed that upwards of 11 million people1 have fled the country or have been displaced within Ukraine.

We’ve already covered how you can support Ukraine through donations using your Foresters Community grants, but what if you want to directly help people who’ve left their country behind? Here are five meaningful ways you can help a refugee from Ukraine and other countries.

Volunteer with a local resettlement agency

A refugee resettlement agency helps welcome refugees to a new city and ensures that programs and support systems are in place when they arrive. You can check with your local government to discover what their refugee resettlement process is and how you can help. People typically begin by tutoring refugees in English or acting as tour guides for newcomers.

No matter how much time you can give to a resettlement agency, there are typically roles available where you can make a difference. You can also check with larger scale organizations to see how you can help outside of your city and across your country. The Red Cross is a great larger organization to start with and they operate throughout Canada, the US and the UK.

Donate goods to newly landed refugees

Along with donating money to help refugees in need, you can also provide goods like clothing, furniture and more. Refugees arriving in a new country often need everyday items to help them get settled in the short-term before taking their next steps in the country. Resettlement facilities can always use more of these forms of donations as well to accommodate refugees as they arrive. When you’re planning your donations, consider adding:

  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Pajamas
  • Office desks
  • Laptops

Call ahead to your local resettlement facility and see what they need so you can ensure you’re getting the right items. The links below will help you connect with a resettlement office in your country:

Spread the word on social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for spreading awareness about causes you’re passionate about to inspire others. Most resettlement facilities and even governments have shareable social media creatives that anyone can download and share on their profiles. Here are some beginner ideas for social media posts:

  • Facts about your country’s refugee resettlement efforts.
  • Facts about the world’s refugee population. You can find great facts on the UN Refugee Agency site, updated to mid-2021.
  • Share stories from refugees around the world. You can find updated stories online and ensure others in your community are aware of them.
  • Or you could talk with a refugee and learn more about their life story and share it with their permission.

Invest in refugees

In Canada, business ownership and self-employment rates are higher among immigrants and refugees than Canadian-born citizens.2 In the US, a study in 2015 showed that only 9% of the US-born population are business owners, compared to 13% of US refugees.3 Additionally, in the UK, 23% of refugees become self-employed compared to 15% of UK-born citizens.4 This data shows that you can make a difference by simply supporting refugee-run businesses in your city.

If you own your own business, you can help a refugee by giving them a job. Refugees fleeing their countries looking for a new home have a wealth of skills that could be an asset to any organization. You can also encourage your company’s leaders to take on refugees who are looking to start their new lives. A US study has shown that refugees have significantly higher retention rates and that hiring refugees provides businesses with more recruitment opportunities for dedicated future refugee employees.5

Open your home to a refugee

You can make a huge difference in a refugee’s life by opening your door to them. Of the challenges that refugees face when coming to a new country, finding a place to live, even temporarily, is one of the most difficult. You can alleviate that struggle with platforms like Airbnb and its Open Homes project, which is available across Canada, the US and the UK.

If you’re a landlord and have available space, you can open a unit to a refugee or refugee family in need. You’ll be making a difference in people’s lives while still getting the regular rent you need to keep your units functional. It’s also a great idea to check in with local religious groups and non-profits in your area for ways to connect with refugees looking for a home.


1 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60555472

2 https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/36-28-0001/2021009/article/00001-eng.htm

3 https://immigrationforum.org/article/immigrants-as-economic-contributors-immigrant-entrepreneurs/

4 https://news.sky.com/story/refugees-are-more-likely-to-be-self-employed-in-the-uk-this-scheme-gives-them-business-training-12336740

5 https://www.tent.org/resources/good-retention-strong-recruitment/

420769 CAN/US (06/22)


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