Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit

Sanctuary-background staff and fellows

We have a number of members of staff and fellows who themselves have refugee backgrounds and/or who have family in countries in which they may be at risk due to conflict or persecution. We recognise that this may bring additional challenges, so as a Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit we have developed our expertise and networks in this area so we are able to provide appropriate support.

We have outlined a range resources and types of support on offer, and we are also here to help and advise anyone wishing to discuss any aspect of supporting sanctuary students (current or potential). To get in touch, please email

Cara fellowship scheme

Cara is a charitable organisation that works with universities all around the globe to protect and support individual researchers that may be at risk of persecution in their current location. 

The University of Leicester has hosted and supported many researchers through its relationship with Cara, including those that were at risk of the Syria crisis, Afghanistan crisis, and most recently the Ukraine crisis. We enable these researchers to continue their academic research and start building a new life in the UK.

What is Cara?

Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics), is a unique charitable organisation, with no counterpart in Europe. It is firmly embedded in the UK higher education and research community, and has been dubbed a lifeline to academics at risk.

Cara supports researchers and academics who are in danger and supports them with leaving their current situation. In many cases, they identify a host university that can support the individual at risk and enable them to continue with their research and academic career. If the individual is unable to return home will be supported to build new lives in the UK.

Learn more about Cara

Who is it for?

It is for academics and researchers that are at risk of persecution in their current location and need assistance to leave.

Recent focused support has been provided to those in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Syria.

For those currently in the Ukraine or affected by the situation, learn more about the Researchers at Risk Fellowships scheme.

How are individuals supported?

The individual that sees themselves at risk must get in contact with Cara. Cara will assess the threat and see what support can be provided. In many cases, they will begin looking for a suitable host university that is compatible with the researcher’s research area. 

Once a host has been identified, the host will find suitable accommodation. The individual, Cara, and the host will work together to help the individual arrive in their new location. The at-risk individual is normally provided with free accommodation for a short period of time and Cara and the host will provide financial support for 12 to 36 months or support for the individual to undertake a PhD. 

The support we provide as an institution once they have arrived is tailored to each individual. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • English language support
  • Career and employability support
  • Researcher and professional skills development.

We currently have four Cara fellows and two Researchers at Risk fellows.

How can individuals and organisations support Cara?

The University of Leicester provides funding directly to Cara to support individuals at risk. If you are a member of the University academic staff, you may be able to provide mentorship to individuals at risk.

Anyone can become a visa sponsor for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. If you are a member of staff at the University of Leicester and want to find out more, please contact the Ukraine action group.

Explore more ways to support Cara

How can I get in touch or find out more?

If you are at risk, please contact Cara directly.

If you would like to find out more about support available to Cara fellows at the University of Leicester, please contact

In the news

Support for sanctuary-background staff and fellows

If you are a member of staff or fellow from a sanctuary background, you may experience additional challenges, particularly regarding your own wellbeing. For information about what wellbeing support is available at the University, please contact the Staff Health and Wellbeing Team at or take a look at the staff wellbeing pages (log-in required), particularly the sections on staff support and coping with world events.

We also have dedicated support for people with refugee backgrounds available in the Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit. To get in touch, please email

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