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British are welcoming, believe asylum seekers


Queen, Princess Diana, David Beckham popular among them 

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14th June 2010:
Asylum seekers and refugees in the UK believe the British are welcoming. An opinion poll on their views reveals a majority think average person in Britain welcomes them. 

The findings come as the country celebrates the Refugee Week. In fact, the `rare survey’ was commissioned by charity Refugee Action to mark the start of Refugee Week.

More than half the total refugees and asylum seekers interviewed insisted they "strongly agreed" or "tended to agree" the average British person welcomes refugees to the UK.

Just about 18 per cent disagreed with that average person in Britain welcomed asylum seekers. Only 6 per cent "strongly disagreed".

As many as 45 per cent were of the opinion British people could still be more understanding on the reasons behind their fleeing their home country. Another 19 per cent said they would feel more welcome, if people smiled or said hello in the street.

The people, football, multicultural society and British television are what the asylum seekers and refugees enjoy most about living in Britain, the findings shows.

Human rights, freedom of speech, and a safe society are what they most valued about living in Britain.

For reaching the conclusions Ipsos Mori interviewed as many as 327 asylum seekers or refugees aged 16 and above in 29 centres used by refugee organisations across Britain.
They were talked to face to face between 27 April and 28 May 2010.

All the refugees and asylum seekers talked to had been in the UK for three months or more since making an asylum claim at the time of interview.

Half of those interviewed had refugee status; another half were asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their claim. They were from countries including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

Responding to the query which characteristics they thought best represented the British people, the most popular answers were "friendly", "polite", and "obsessed with football".

For a quarter of refugees and asylum seekers, the British were "hard working" and "kind". Only 10 per cent labeled them as "reserved" or "complaining".

The survey also indicates the popularity of Queen, Princess Diana and David Beckham. As many as 50 per cent of those interviewed on life in Britain said they were big admirers of the Queen.

Refugee Action’s chief executive Jill Roberts said this was a very positive poll and challenges a number of perceptions of the refugee experience in the UK. It’s clear that whatever issues remain in relation to public policy, the day-to-day experience of individual asylum seekers is broadly defined by public tolerance and acceptance, not suspicion or hostility.

Refugees obviously continue to face significant challenges, but the fact that they find British people so welcoming is hugely encouraging.

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