Our History

Limited Company  (06365085)

Registered Charity (No 1121330)

RETAS was founded in 2002 to assist newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees who were arriving in large numbers in Leeds. 

At the time there were a plethora of organisations emerging across Leeds and West Yorkshire all with the shared desire to support asylum seekers and refugees by responding to many pressing needs: Support with status, housing, furniture and white goods, language, training for UK recognised qualifications, welfare,  dispersed and separated families, health and wellbeing, employment preparation and job opportunities, befriending, orientation, integration and help avoiding poverty, isolation and destitution. 

Over the next 10 years these newly formed organisations gradually began to rationalise, recognise their specialisms and expertise, become more formal, link and work collaboratively together and form productive partnerships.  

RETAS became a registered Charity (No 1121330) and a Limited Company  (06365085) in 2007.   Since then with a range of funding from, among others, the European Commission, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Henry Smith Foundation, Asylum Migration and Integration Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund,  Leeds City Council Communities and Environment, Leeds City Council Employment and Skills, Wakefield Council, Leeds Community Foundation, Santander Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Evan Cornish Foundation, AB Charitable Trust , RETAS has gradually grown from a small informal organization to a medium sized regionally recognized Charity that currently assists over 3000 individuals each year. 

One unique element of RETAS has been the development of a comprehensive Volunteer Service and Academy which cultivates a nurturing and inclusive environment where all volunteers gain a sense of wellbeing and achievement.

We recognise that the magnitude of the issues we are addressing is far greater than the financial resources at hand. Therefore, volunteering is crucial in ensuring that we deliver effectively on our vision and mission. Excellent volunteering learning and development opportunities are instrumental in maintaining high-quality service delivery while simultaneously helping volunteers realise their personal and professional goals.

RETAS’ Volunteer Academy encourages co-production and collaboration at all levels and volunteers are required to attend a detailed induction programme, ongoing training and are directly involved in shaping their volunteering experience, the volunteer service, and the wider service provision.

Collaborating and working in partnership, where appropriate, with other organisations supporting asylum seekers and refugees RETAS continues to raise awareness and understanding of issues and barriers which affect individuals ability to integrate:  securing employment, language, cultural and job market differences, financial marginalisation, lack of UK recognized qualifications, driving licences, employment history, references and work experience.  Misunderstandings from employers, temporary and zero-hour contracts, lack of affordable childcare, poor IT Literacy all further exacerbate the barriers.        70% of the RETAS team has lived experience of migration, although recruited for their skills and knowledge they have a personal understanding of the issues their clients face.


Some words from our clients