How would you feel moving to a country with nothing but the clothes on your back? Many refugees and asylum seekers have come to Northern Ireland in that exact position.


NI community of refugees and asylum seekers (NICRAS) is a Refugee Community Organisation (RCO), established in 2002. The charity provides a voice to refugees and asylum seekers to discuss issues and concerns where there may be gaps when dealing with the stationary and voluntary sector. Approximately 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers reach out to the charity each year, most being Belfast based. 


NICRAS offer a wide and varied range of services to support their community. The help can be specific to individual needs such as completing benefit forms, help with applying for further education or supporting the integration process of refugees and asylum seekers.

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Furthermore, for children, members run a homework class to assist where parents struggle due to the language barrier.


Previously, Black Santa has helped NICRAS by raising money to fund vouchers for newly arrived and destitute asylum seekers. Destitute asylum seekers are individuals who have been denied assistance and home office have withdrawn support. Consequently, there are no regular means of support from the government, and they are forced to rely on friends and voluntary organisations for aid. Therefore, these vouchers are crucial to contribute towards food and other essentials such as warm clothing to help with the climate adjustment.


This year, NICRAS plan on continuing to utilise the money to help the newly arrived and destitute asylum seekers. Northern Ireland has had an increase in the number of asylum seekers in need of support and this number is continuing to grow. This year, the money raised can really help families and individuals to receive the support they desperately need. 


“The Sit Out Black Santa fund was really helpful, and we are really grateful for the fund to help newly arrived and destitute asylum seekers”  - Ronnie Vellem