During the First World War, 1.5 million Belgians or one fifth of the total population fled the country. 250.000 were welcomed in England, which still accounts for the largest refugee movement in British history. In her PhD, Jolien researched the local refugee relief in Birmingham. In this city, the War Refugees Committee Birmingham and District (WRCB) was founded to receive and to take care of approximately 5.000 Belgians for the whole duration of the war.
The Belgian refugee community in Birmingham is studied from different angles.
The WRCB is scrutinised: Who organised the refugee relief? What did this refugee relief entail?
For whom was the help intended?
To which rights were Belgian refugees entitled? What difficulties did they experience in retrieving their rights?
Descendants of Belgian refugees were also interviewed to recover some personal testimonies, as well as to question what the refugee story of their ancestors still means for them today.