Team Fair Begins Here on World Refugee Day

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: CELEBRITIES AND REFUGEES JOIN ‘TEAM FAIR BEGINS HERE’ 

June 20, 2024

Big Zuu, Brian Cox, Hayley Attwell, Joanna Lumley, Juliet Stevenson and Martins Imhangbe are just some of the famous faces joining refugee sector leaders and other lived experience campaigners as part of ‘Team Fair Begins Here’ revealed on World Refugee Day today (20th June 2024) and organised by coalition campaign Together With Refugees. Ahead of the General Election, the Team has formed to call for the next government to commit to a fair new plan for refugees, including scrapping the Rwanda scheme. 

World Refugee Day takes place during Refugee Week (17-23 June 2024) and with England playing in the Euros today and Scotland having played yesterday, members of Team Fair Begins Here coming together for a kick about outside the Houses of Parliament today, to call for a ‘fair shot’ for people seeking asylum in the UK.  

Team members joining the action on Parliament Square include actor Juliet Stevenson, CEOs of Safe Passage, Choose Love and Freedom from Torture and lived experience campaigners from RAS Voices. They’ll be singing along to football classic ‘Tubthumping’ (I get knocked down, but I get up again) by Chumbawamba, led by lead singer Dunstan Bruce accompanied by Cassie Fox of I, Doris. They’ll be donning football kit, scarves and hearts – all in orange, the colour of love and solidarity with refugees – and embracing the values of football with fair play, solidarity and equality.  

Brian Cox, actor and member of Team Fair Begins Here, said: “The chaos and cruelty of the current asylum system cannot be allowed to continue. The next government has the chance to make a major reset on how the UK treats refugees. It must commit to a fair new plan for refugees and represent what we know people across the country really want.  I’m proud to join Team Fair Begins Here on World Refugee Day and take a stand for something better.”

Dr Wanda Wyporska, spokesperson for Together With Refugees and CEO of Safe Passage International said: “I’ve always loved how football can very often bridge divides and bring people together. As we focus on the Olympics, the Copa America and the Euros, let’s all call for the lessons of solidarity, integrity and fair play to be applied to our broken asylum system. As the daughter of the Windrush generation and the granddaughter of a Polish refugee, today I’m honoured to be part of this team – standing together to call for fairness and dignity. When the next government is in place next month, it’s time to give all refugees a fair shot.”

Juliet Stevenson, actor and former host to a family of refugees from Ukraine, said: “Thousands of people, like me, have opened their homes to host refugees. Communities across the UK have spoken out, donated money and volunteered to support refugees. And in turn refugees do so much for our communities as our friends, neighbours and colleagues. That’s why I’ve joined Team Fair Begins here – to send a clear message to the next government that we want a fair plan for refugees.  We want a plan that is compassionate and works for everyone.”

TV Chef and personality, Big Zuu, lived in refugee accommodation as a baby as his mother had fled Sierra Leone when she was pregnant with him and sought asylum in the UK. He said: “As a massive football fan I know the power of being in a team, of belonging, solidarity and fair play.  But these are sadly lacking in the asylum system today.  I grew up as the child of a refugee and it was tough back then, but things are much harder now.  We need the next government to put a stop to the awful cruelty and make a proper plan, one that is compassionate and fair. I’m proud to have joined Team Fair Begins Here and add my name to this call.”

Patrick Monahan, comedian and former refugee, said: “Football has a unique way of bringing people together and breaking through divides. It represents fair play, belonging and integrity – things that are missing from the asylum system in the UK. That’s why I’ve joined Team Fair Begins Here – because people fleeing war and persecutions deserve to be treated fairly and to build a new life where they feel part of a community.  Something I faced with my family when I arrived here as a young boy.  The next government must create a fair new plan for refugees – and put an end to the cruelty and chaos.”

Ali Ghaderi, Founder of the Babylon Project who arrived in the UK as a refugee, said: “Football has always been important to me, it brings people together and breaks through divides. And as somebody who arrived in the UK as a refugee the values of fair play, equality and community are close to my heart. Today is World Refugee Day and I’m really pleased to be joining Team Fair Begins Here and call for a fair new plan for refugees from the next government.”

Sabia Zazai, Co-Chair of Together With Refugees, CEO of Scottish Refugee Council and former refugee from Afghanistan, said: “Today, I am proud to call Scotland home. My hope is that others fleeing war and persecution have the same opportunities to rebuild their lives in safety. When you give people a fair shot – the chance to work, put down roots and play a part in their new communities – they can achieve their goals and help create a better, richer society for us all. 

“Sadly, the current system isn’t working for refugees or local communities. It’s time to show cruelty and division the red card! We need to make it clear to politicians from all parties that most people want a kinder, fairer and more effective refugee system. The louder our voice becomes, the harder it will be for the next UK government to ignore.”

Fran Heathcote, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, who has joined Team Fair Begins Here, said:  “PCS is proud to join Team Fair Begins Here.  PCS has campaigned against the inhumane Rwanda policy since its inception. It was our members who would have had to implement the scheme and it’s our members whose determination will help defeat it. 

“We are pleased to stand with others in rejecting the current hostility against refugees, demonstrate solidarity with them and commit to take action to win a fair new plan for them. 

 “With a new government comes new hope – and we hope whoever is in No 10 next month, they will work with us and support our Safe Passage policy.”  

Polling, commissioned by Together With Refugees, shows that 80% of the British public want an approach to the asylum system that is well managed, fair and compassionate (1).  The Fair Begins Here campaign is calling for the next government to commit to a fair new plan for refugees that works for everyone, with: 

  • Protection for people fleeing war and persecution by upholding the UK’s commitment under international law to the right to claim asylum and by scrapping the Rwanda scheme.  
  • A proper strategy for welcoming refugees by ensuring fair, rapid decisions on their application for asylum, and the chance to rebuild their lives through settling in a community, being allowed to work and the chance to learn English.   
  • Stronger global cooperation to tackle the root causes that force people to flee their homes and provides positive solutions when they do, including through safe routes to refugee protection.     

The full list of Team Fair Begins Here members is: 

  • Ali Ghaderi, lived experience campaigner and founder of the Babylon Project  
  • Andrea Vukovic, Deputy Director, Women for Refugee Women  
  • Angela McLeary, One Strong Voice  
  • Big Zuu, TV personality and chef
  • Brian Cox, actor  
  • Bridget Young, Director, NACCOM
  • Cassie Fox, musician
  • David Morrissey, actor  
  • Rabbi David Mason, Executive Director, HIAS+JCORE 
  • Dawn O’Porter, author, director and TV presenter  
  • Denise Mina, author   
  • Dunstan Bruce, musician and filmmaker
  • Enver Solomon, CEO, Refugee Council  
  • Fran Heathcote, General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union  
  • Frankie Boyle, comedian  
  • Gillian Slovo, author and former refugee   
  • Dr Halima Begum, CEO, Oxfam GB
  • Hannah Williams, CEO, Separated Child
  • Dame Harriet Walter, actor  
  • Hayley Atwell, actor  
  • James Wilson, Director, Detention Action  
  • Jasmine Mohtashami, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network
  • Jeannie Tweedie, Elmbridge CAN  
  • Jen Brister, comedian  
  • Jenni Regan, CEO, IMIX  
  • Dame Joanna Lumley, actor  
  • Jonathan Ellis, Director, Detention Forum  
  • Jonathan Kazembe, RAS Voices
  • Josie Naughton, CEO, Choose Love
  • Juliet Stevenson, actor  
  • Kathy Lette, author
  • Leila Zadeh, Executive, Rainbow Migration
  • Lou Calvey, Director, Asylum Matters
  • Martins Imhangbe, actor (Bridgerton)  
  • Maya Ghazal, UN Goodwill Ambassador and former refugee  
  • Meera Syal, actor, comedian and writer  
  • Nish Kumar, comedian  
  • Razia Shariff, CEO, Kent Refugee Action Network  
  • Rima Amin, Cartoons Not Cruelty
  • Rishan Tsegay, lived experience media ambassador, Kent Refugee Action Network  
  • Dr Saad Maida, Senior Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, NHS, and former refugee
  • Sabir Zazai, CEO of Scottish Refugee Council and Co-Chair of Together With Refugees
  • Samuel West, actor
  • Sian Summers-Rees, CEO, City of Sanctuary  
  • Simon Rix, Kaiser Chiefs bassist  
  • Sita Brahmachari, author  
  • Sonya Sceats, CEO, Freedom from Torture
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley, businesswoman and former child refugee  
  • Steve Smith, CEO, Care4Calais
  • Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future  
  • Tim Naor Hilton, CEO, Refugee Action 
  • Dr Wanda Wyporska, CEO, Safe Passage International

More than 600 organisations – from large national organisations to small grassroots projects – have joined the coalition campaign Together With Refugees since its launch in May 2021. The coalition will be taking its Fair Begins Here campaign to communities across the UK and bringing together the people of Britain to show their support.   

ENDS 

Notes to editors 

(1) Together With Refugees collected data from a representative sample of 1,014 adults in the UK on Tuesday 5 December 2023, using Focaldata 

About Together With Refugees 
Together With Refugees is a coalition of more than 600 national and local organisations representing refugees and people from all walks of life who believe in showing compassion to refugees fleeing war and persecution. The coalition is calling for a better approach to supporting refugees that: allows people to seek safety in the UK, no matter how they came here; ensures people can live in dignity while they wait to find out if they will be granted protection; and enables refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to their communities. It also wants the UK to work with other countries to do its bit to help people forced to flee their homes. Find out more at togetherwithrefugees.org.uk, @RefugeeTogether on X and @RefugeesTogether on Instagram.