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Laura Kyrke-Smith, UK Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC)

International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) UK Executive Director, Laura Kyrke-Smith, on supporting refugees in the UK.

Laura Kyrke-Smith is the IRC’s Executive Director in the UK and she joins us to discuss their work in supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK who come from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq, Sudan and beyond.

This episode follows the earlier interview with David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, which aired in April 2021 and provided a global outlook of the IRC’s work.

The IRC in the UK provides support through various activities, including orientation for newcomers, employment counselling, peer mentorship and leadership training.

They have five key outcome areas including health; education; economic wellbeing and empowerment; safety (including child and women’s protection); and power (helping their clients be part of the decision-making on matters that impact their lives).

This episode is for anyone who is interested in the humanitarian space and who would like to learn of key initiatives that are helping refugees achieve a better life.

About Laura Kyrke-Smith

Laura became the Executive Director of International Rescue Committee UK in 2019. The International Rescue Committee works in more than 40 countries worldwide, helping people who are affected by conflict and crisis, including the climate crisis, to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.

IRC UK’s 200+ staff support IRC’s international programmes with fundraising, advocacy, awareness-raising, grant and contract management, and technical advice. IRC UK also runs programmes with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, with a focus on cultural orientation, job readiness and education.  

IRC UK is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee, and Laura serves on the DEC’s Board of Trustees.

Laura’s career spans the civil service, private and charity sectors. She joined the International Rescue Committee as Director of Communications for Europe in 2016. Prior to that she was a Partner at a communications consultancy, Portland, where she worked with government, corporate and not-for-profit clients, and then led the philanthropy and global impact practice. Laura started her career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, where she worked as a policy analyst and speechwriter.

Laura served for many years as a Trustee of Young Roots, working with young refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, Lebanon and Nepal. She also served on the youth Board of the foreign affairs think tank Chatham House.

Laura has a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a BA in History from the University of Cambridge. She juggles working life with raising three young children, with mixed success!


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