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I am a Refugee

Please see our Just Giving page to donate or to fundraise for this campaign

Our politicians are currently faced with making decisions that could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people forced to flee war and persecution every day. We have seen in recent months that shifts in public opinion can have huge consequences for government policy, but that there is still a huge amount of misinformation and unbalanced reporting in the media around refugees and forced migrants. This ranges from dismissal of the violence and terror that causes people to seek sanctuary to well meaning but inaccurate portrayals of refugees as being entirely helpless and unable to look after themselves. 

In fact refugees have historically been huge contributors to innovation, industry and culture around the world. Refugee populations are hugely diverse, with many different skills, talents and experiences and history shows that time and time again, the successful integration of refugees into a host country brings about many benefits both for the refugees themselves who have found a new home, and the country that welcomes them. 

In order to promote the contributions that thousands upon thousands of refugees have made to the UK JCWI is developing a 'blue plaque' campaign for refugees. This follows on from our ‘I am an Immigrant’ campaign, which challenged some of the toxic discourse around immigration in the run up to the May 2015 General Election. 

The singer Rita Ora has already agreed to take part in the campaign.


The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has partnered with Coley Porter Bell brand design agency to create an ‘I am a Refugee’ campaign, which highlights the contributions of refugees to the UK. Please see the flyer at the bottom for visuals.

The primary purpose of the campaign is to challenge negativity and positively influence the public’s perceptions of refugees. This will be achieved through selecting specific ambassadors who have come to the UK as refugees and significantly contributed to the UK. This will be highlighted by plaques on key buildings where they have lived and worked around London and the UK.

We are also putting a call out for refugees to be nominated as ambassadors for our campaign so please get in touch with us if you would like to nominate someone as a refugee ambassador. Please contact We are happy to use a pseudonym for the refugees who wish to be anonymised.

In addition, as part of Refugee Week 2016, we will create plaques for all refugees who wish to participate in the campaign and these will be displayed in a striking art exhibition, alongside the refugee ambassadors' plaques, during the course of the week. To increase the scope of participation, all refugees will have the opportunity to also create their own digital plaques through a dedicated campaign website. This will also be a platform to provide a lot more information. 

Campaign Outline

1)     Plaques will be put up on appropriate buildings – this will be photographed/filmed and the footage used in other campaign collateral.

2)     A website will be created allowing people to find out more about the contribution of our ambassador refugees – we intend to include still photography and moving image as well as a brief biography.

3)     As part of the website, all refugees will be able to personalise their own plaque which can be used in one of two ways 1) It can be used as the user’s social media profile picture and/or downloaded to be printed off at home as a poster and 2) The users personal story and images can be uploaded to create their own digital plaque which will sit alongside those of our ambassadors in a virtual hall of fame.

4)     We also want to create an installation/exhibition showing all the plaques generated during the campaign.

5)     A campaign film could be created to be shown at Refugee Week and which can be uploaded to YouTube highlighting the contribution of our ambassadors to UK culture and showing footage of the plaques in-situ. This will allow further national and international publicity.

Key Dates:

We aim to launch the campaign with the plaques on buildings and website in the run up to Refugee Week in June 2016. During Refugee Week we hope to run a physical exhibition. The campaign will be widely shared online in the run up to Refugee Week to ensure that sufficient interest is generated, to make members of the public aware of the campaign and to encourage refugees to create their own plaques which will then be used during the exhibition.

In order to do this funding needs to be secured by May 2016 to allow us two months to put the call out for all refugees to join, finalise the ambassadors, make the plaques and develop the website. The first three weeks in June will be the used to promote the campaign, create the art exhibition and have logistics ready to put up the ambassadors plaques to launch the campaign on 20 June 2016 International Refugee Day at the start of Refugee Week.

Campaign Aim:

Through the ‘I am a Refugee’ plaque campaign we will highlight the contributions to British society from men and women who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution, historically and in present times. We want to show that when refugees are welcomed into the UK, they are able to thrive and contribute.

Our aim is to broaden the public’s perceptions and to continue to humanise the migration debate as refugees’ individual stories and achievements often get lost among the global popular rhetoric.  

This powerful visual campaign will assist in shaping a positive and balanced debate around the contribution of refugees in the UK.

We hope that you will be willing to support us and become a part of this vital campaign which is in a particularly crucial year in light of the global refugee crisis and the UK’s EU referendum in which migration will continue to dominate.

Your support for the campaign both in terms of promotion and in any level of financial contribution would be extremely gratefully received. The majority of costs are being met through in-kind donations by Coley Porter Bell (£60,632 including costs for potential campaign video). Please see the breakdown below for the costs that we still need to be met.

Breakdown of Costs which Still Need to Be Met:

Total Costs:  Minimum Needed: £21,863 and with campaign film:  £32,362 

Production of proper plaques for celebrity ambassadors x 10 (including creation of prototype) = £6,350

Placement and photography of plaques in-situ = £2,000

Production of vinyl plaques for the art exhibition of celebrity ambassadors (assumes 1 vinyl printed per celebrity x 10 celebrities) = £170

Production of vinyl plaques for refugees who join the campaign for Refugee Week x 50 = £833

Staff costs to develop, promote and implement campaign including website content and monitoring  to continue campaign running for a further 3 months= £10,970

Website development to allow a digital campaign and involvement from much larger group of refugees is pro bono but third party costs = £1,440

This would include adding in more complex functionality such as:

  • Features ‘extra information' about the celebrity ambassadors – photos and mini biography (click on a plaque to find out more)

  • Personalise your own plaque and download as a jpeg for your social media avatar or print to A3 to create your own personalised paper plaque

  • Whilst personalising your plaque, upload your own ‘extra information’ photo and have your plaque added to the website landing page, alongside the celebrity plaques so that others can click on your plaque and find out more about you

Website technical details: Microsoft Azure and MySQL, with customised URL = £100

(Developing a film for the campaign is pro bono but third party costs for filming and editing of movie = £ 9,500 plus £1,000 staff costs Total: £10,500)

In order to launch the campaign for Refugee Week we have streamlined many elements and further reduced costs to £10,893. Please see our Just Giving page to help us meet our target. 

Please get in touch with us if you wish to discuss the campaign further: