Current Situation

Refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield are supported by a diverse range of statutory and voluntary organisations, from the city council to refugee community organisations and church-based groups.

Asylum Seekers

As at the end of September 2009 , figures showed that around 570 asylum seekers in Sheffield were receiving some form of Asylum Support from the UK Border Agency .

In 2002, it was estimated that 659 refugee or asylum-seeking children at school in Sheffield, of which 83 were unaccompanied minors.

Although NASS intended to group speakers of Somali, Arabic, Dutch, Farsi, Bengali, Mandarin, Hukka, Cantonese, French, Urdu, Pushtu, Punjabi, and English in Sheffield, data gathered in May 2004 showed that asylum seekers of over 56 different nationalities were being accommodated by NASS in Sheffield.

Of these, the largest groups at that time were Iranians, Iraqis, Somalis, Yemenis, Congolese and Afghans. The fact that Sheffield was home to the second largest number of dispersed Somali asylum seekers in the UK and the largest number of dispersed Yemenis suggests that although new nationalities are arriving in Sheffield, efforts are being made to resettle asylum seekers according to the existence of established communities in the city.

There is likely to be significant population of asylum seekers in Sheffield who are not supported by the government, as many new arrivals may be supported by families and friends that are already resident in the city. Others may not be eligible for support and also may not show up in official estimates.

Some of the asylum seekers in Sheffield have had a very high profile, such as Elton Gashi, otherwise known as the young boxer Tony Montana, who came to Sheffield to train with the famous trainer, Brendan Ingle.



The South Asian ethnic group, that is people of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, form the second largest ethnic group in Sheffield comprising of 32,400 people, with Pakistanis forming the largest group with 16,800 people.

The city is home to a significant number of Chileans, Vietnamese, Somalis and Yemenis, many of whom arrived as, or became, refugees. There are an estimated 3500 - 9000 Yemeni's in Sheffield which is makes it one of the largest communities in the UK.

The Sheffield Somali community is the second largest and one of the oldest in the  UK. Most of the current population have settled in Sheffield since the 1980s due to the conflicts and drought in their homeland.

Other ethnic groups include Iranians, Kurds, Kosovars, Chinese and East-Europeans who have made Sheffield their home over the years. The Kurds and Kosovars have moved to the city in large numbers over the last ten years many illegally or as Asylum seekers so the exact number of people of these groups living in the city is unknown.


Ethnicity and Diversity

Sheffield is an ethnically diverse city, with around 14% of its population from black or minority ethnic groups.  The largest single ethnic minority group in Sheffield is the Pakistani community which is over 3% of the population (about 16,000 people), however Sheffield also has large Caribbean, Indian, Bangladeshi, Somali, Yemeni and Chinese communities.  More recently, Sheffield has seen an increase in the number of overseas students and in economic migrants from within the enlarged European Union ( Ethnic minority groups tend to be concentrated on some parts of the city. In the Sharrow area about 39% of the population is from ethnic minorities.

In July 2006 the Home Office gave Sheffield City Council extra funds to look after and house its large new immigrant East European communities.

68.6% of the population in Sheffield is Christian, with the second largest group of religiously aligned people being Muslims at 4.6%.

The 2001 census found that 5.2% of the population resident in Sheffield were born outside the EU, with 1.2% born elsewhere in the EU.

91.2% of the population in Sheffield describe themselves as 'white' (compared with the England average of 90.9%) and the ethnic minority population is therefore placed at 8.8%.


Why Sheffield?

Sheffield was a major industrial city until the 1980s so the earlier arrivals came here to find work, particularly in the steel industry. Most immigrants have been fairly poor on arrival so have tended to settle in inner city areas like Sharrow, Burngreave and Darnall, where housing is cheaper. Some, including refugees, have been housed in council or housing association properties in different parts of the city. In 2000, the government set up a dispersal scheme for asylum-seekers. This means that when they first claim asylum, they may be sent to another part of the country. This is to try to ensure that one area doesn't have to cope with an unfairly high proportion of asylum-seekers.

Key Organisations

There are a multitude of local and regional organizations working to support refugees and   asylum-seekers in Sheffield. Asylum Seeker Support Initiative (ASSIST) offers, among others, assistance in finding night shelter and temporary accommodation with host families for asylum seekers, in paying a small amount of money for food and basic living expenses, in giving advice about other available sources of assistance as well as providing opportunities for volunteering.

Northern Refugee Centre (NRC) is a registered independent charitable organisation to promote the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers within the Yorkshire and Humber region. It provides advice and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers and offer support to refugee community organisations.  Close

Aden Charitable and Social Association aims at promoting training, education and social welfare amongst the Yemeni community offering advice on welfare benefits, improve understanding of social services, understanding of civic duties, improve access to services and opportunities as well as providing education and training and creating job opportunities.   

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) offers free advice on debt and consumer issues, benefits, housing, legal matters, employment, and immigration.  

Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers provides support for groups campaigning for individual and families of asylum seekers who are unjustly threatened with deportation, campaigns for the right to work and for income support for asylum seekers, the abolition of detention centers, full legal rights and representation, the scrapping of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 and is against deportation and forced dispersal.

City of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for asylum-seekers and refugees in Sheffield offering to people in need of safety, and enabling asylum-seekers and refugees to contribute fully to the life of our communities.

Last Updated: 17/02/10


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