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Has the Ukraine war changed our perception of refugees?

16th - 23rd June 2023

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Total votes


Age 5-11 votes


Age 11-16+ votes

The war between Ukraine and Russia started on February 24th, 2022 and became a dominating issue for many countries across the Europe and the World. Both with disruptions in the oil industry as well as huge amounts of European and American weaponry being sent to Ukraine.

But it is important to consider the individuals who are fleeing Ukraine in search of refuge.The human impact of the conflict is profound on an individual and national level. Since the start of the war, over 6,231,000 people from Ukraine to become refugees and have fled to safety in countries across Europe.

What happens to refugees when they come to the UK, and how the UK government and citizens respond, has been debated by politicians for many years, with refugees previously coming from conflict zones in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and many others.

To mark the 25th anniversary of Refugee Week, and this year’s theme of “Compassion in Action”, our voters explored how the war in Ukraine may have changed perceptions of refugees.

Secondary and 16+ voters considered: “Has the Ukraine war changed our perception of refugees?” Whereas Primary 9-11 voters considered “Does the UK make refugees feel welcome?” and Primary 5-9 voters debated a similar question, “Do we know how to make refugees feel welcome?”


Age 9-11

"I voted 'no' because we don't always respect every refugee as much as UK nationals."


Age 11-16

“No - Some people in the UK have pretty set opinions about refugees, it doesn't matter where they are coming from. It is difficult to change this perception.”


Age 16+

“I now know more about refugees and have realised that we do need to treat refugees better. A lot of the headlines are dehumanising, everyone is only human and should be treated equally. Because we hear so many stories, people become desensitised to the refugee experience.”

60% of those aged between 11 & 16 voted 'No' to the question, "Has the Ukraine war changed our perception of refugees?"

  • Secondary, College and 16+ voters were discussing the question, "Has the Ukraine war changed our perception of refugees?"
  • 60% of 11-16-year-olds voted 'No' and 61% of College and 16+ voters also voted 'No'
50% of those aged between 9-11 said that the UK does not make refugees feel welcome.

  • 9-11-year-olds were discussing the question, "Does the UK make refugees feel welcome?"
  • The result was split, with 50% voting 'No'.
82% of those aged between 5-9 said that they know how to make refugees welcome.

  • Our youngest group of voters, aged between 5 & 9 answered the question, "Do we know how to make refugees feel welcome?"
  • 82% voted 'Yes', with some arguing that they would like to do more.
Some argued that it can be difficult to change people's opinions and many in the UK already have strong opinions on the subject.

  • In the comments, many voters argued that they already demonstrated compassion towards refugees and so the Ukraine war hadn't changed that.
  • Equally, some voters said many in the UK have set opinions on refugees that had not been changed by the Ukraine war.
Ukraine Refugees website banner doughnuts

Feedback from our Impact Partners

Thank you to Lea at the Refugee Council for responding to what the children had to say during Refugee Week.

The Refugee Council are a charity that support refugees as well as help to inspire changes in attitudes to refugees.