World Jewish Relief was established to rescue refugees from Nazi Europe in 1933, and today our charity is committed to helping refugees rebuild their lives, particularly through employment programmes.

The refugee story is close to home for many within the Jewish community and these experiences underpin our response to the current global refugee crisis. In 2015/16 when millions were fleeing Syria, we provided emergency relief including shelter, food and medical care to camps in Greece.  Since then we have run programmes giving Syrian refugee children access to education in Greece and Turkey, founded a Woman's Centre providing a safe space for psycho-social care and established a legal resource centre for unaccompanied minors in Athens.

Our focus has now shifted to refugee employment support programmes, based on our expertise in running livelihood programmes in some of the world's poorest Jewish communities and beyond, as well as our founding history of helping Jewish refugees build a new life in Britain where jobs led to integration and the ability to make a positive contribution to society. 

The STEP programme for Syrian refugees in the UK

In 2016 we created and began implementing the Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP) providing personalised support for refugees who have recently arrived in the UK, enabling them to gain regular and sustainable employment.

The bespoke programme is adapted to each individual's needs and helps refugees gain language skills, qualifications and training, as well as providing one-to-one assistance in CV writing, interview skills, finding work or setting up their own business.

Graduates of the programme have found work in a range of sectors including retail, hair and beauty, engineering, education, pharmacy and construction.

We work closely with a number of employers to find suitable positions. We have helped refugees secure jobs at Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Chiquitos, Costco, Coventry City Council, Leeds City Council, Lloyds Pharmacy, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Timpson, TK Maxx and Waitrose.

STEP is delivered in partnership with Horton Housing Association, The Refugee Council, Coventry City Council, Business in the CommunityThe Entrepreneurial Refugee Network and the Stand Up and Be Counted Theatre Company.

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Thanks to World Jewish Relief’s STEP Programme, I have been able to gain confidence, improve my language skills, achieve qualifications and gain employment within a pharmacy

Nadia, Pharmacist from Syria

Refugees in Greece

This programme is a life changing experience for me. It gave me confidence and helped me find work”

AA, Syrian refugee in Athens who was facing long term unemployment

Jewish Refugees in Ukraine

Since the conflict in Eastern Ukraine began in 2014, more than 10,000 people have been killed and 25,000 injured. Continued violent skirmishes and shelling have led to over 1.8m people fleeing their homes, including thousands of Jews from Donetsk and Lugansk. Most are now living in mainland Ukraine as Internally Displaced People (IDPs) with limited rights.

Our 'Back to Work' and Livelihood courses provide practical training and support for Jewish IDPs, and others in the Jewish community, enabling them to gain suitable skills to help them re-enter the job market.

Galina's Story

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Galina and her son share a single bunk bed in a hostel dormitory

When the shelling started, Galina's only thought was for the safety of her nine year old son Vasiliy. Grabbing just a handful of belongings, she left the home she owned and the business she ran, and fled to Kiev. 

With no money and no work, Galina could only afford a roof over their heads by renting a single bunk bed in a hostel dormitory.

Desperate for work but discovering discrimination against IDPs at every turn, Galina enrolled on our 'Back to Work' course where she received much-needed psychological support and practical training.

Now Galina has found a job and the family are looking forward to a better future.  

Other refugee responses

When crisis strikes, World Jewish Relief launches emergency appeals to raise funds and provide relevant assistance to those most in need. Some of our refugee crisis response includes:

2018 Rohingya Refugees. 1,239 food parcels provided to Rohingya refugees displaced into Bangladesh.

2018 Ethiopian Refugees. 400,000 litres of clean water supplied to Ethiopian refugees displaced by conflict in Northern Kenya.

2017 South Sudanese Refugees. 600 South Sudanese refugee women and adolescent girls in Northern Uganda assisted with psychological and small business support.