Media release

Pattie Boyd photographs highlight the refugee stories beyond the headlines

  • UK for UNHCR is encouraging the public to look beyond news headlines about refugees as part of its winter campaign 
  • ‘Beyond the Headlines’ sees a series of images captured by photographer and author, Pattie Boyd, highlighting the stories of those who have faced conflict and persecution    
  • The portraits feature six refugees who were forced to flee their home countries and now live in the UK, each with their own story and hopes for the future 
  • Funds donated will support families who remain displaced by conflict and persecution in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine to survive the coming winter  

LONDON, 22 November 2023Celebrity photographer and author, Pattie Boyd, has teamed up with charity UK for UNHCR to launch a portrait series of people who have fled their home countries to help show the individual human stories ‘Beyond the Headlines.’ 

UK for UNHCR hopes that the series will encourage the British public to look beyond headlines and learn more about the experiences of ordinary people who have been forced to flee their homes and become refugees. 

Six people from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine, who have found refuge in the UK after fleeing war and persecution, are featured throughout the images. Each has been photographed with a genuine news headline that is directly related to their own story, to demonstrate the individuals who are ‘Beyond the Headlines.’  

Pattie Boyd, Photographer and Author, said: It was an honour to meet and capture the portraits of these brave people. Photography has been a life passion of mine, and yet I’m still amazed by the power of the camera in telling a story. I found myself both moved and inspired when hearing the stories of these individuals, and hope that these photographs will remind everyone that beyond every headline are the individual stories of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down by war in an instant.’ 

Appearing in the photographs are: 

  • Alexandra (she/her): Alexandra grew up in Kyiv and fled soon after the war started in Ukraine. An artist and curator, she has made the UK her home and finds inspiration in the museums, architecture and even the urban foxes around her.  
  • Hamzeh (he/him) and Amany (she/her): A young married couple, both Hamzeh and Amany fled the crisis in Syria before eventually finding safety in the UK. Whilst living in a refugee camp in Jordan, Hamzeh developed his passion for acting and today works with the Curious Monkey Theatre in northeast England. 
  • Maysara (he/him): When he was just 13 years old, Maysara fled from Syria to Lebanon, before being resettled to the UK. This forced Maysara to put his education and dreams on hold for some years, but he is now in his final year of university, studying international relations and political science. 
  • Najeem (he/him): Najeem is an artist from Afghanistan who speaks five languages. Since arriving in the UK, he has completed chef’s training and is now teaching others how to make his favourite dish of mantu – Afghan dumplings.  
  • Vera (she/her): A civil engineer from eastern Ukraine, Vera fled from the war last April. After going first to Romania and then Poland, she is still getting used to life in the UK and hoping to find a job in her field. 

The portrait series showcases six individuals, yet there are hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine who remain displaced and are facing a brutal winter far from home.  

Displaced families living in informal tented settlements or damaged buildings have little protection from freezing temperatures, rain and snow, putting them at risk of hypothermia, frostbite and life-threatening respiratory diseases. Others will struggle to keep warm in buildings without power and exposed to the elements due to shelling amidst sub-zero temperatures.  

This winter, UK for UNHCR is calling for donations to help provide essential support, such as blankets, fuel and emergency cash assistance, to families who remain displaced after fleeing war and crisis in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.  

Emma Cherniavsky, Chief Executive of UK for UNHCR, said: ‘Sadly, conflicts and crises are reported almost daily across the world, and when we don’t see the individuals impacted by each situation, there’s a risk that society can become desensitised. Everyday mums, dads, students, brothers, sisters, rarely get to tell their side of big news stories while they are happening, so we really wanted to remind the public that beyond the headlines are ordinary people.  

I’m so grateful to our refugee storytellers for allowing us to share their stories. These photographs beautifully encapsulate the hope, resilience and bravery of individuals who have been forced to leave their home.’ 

To find out more about Beyond the Headlines, visit   

To donate to UK for UNHCR’s Winter Appeal and help displaced families, visit  


Notes to Editors 

For more information, contact:  

[email protected] 

Headlines were sourced from papers across the globe, including:  

Adïam Yemane assisted Pattie Boyd on photography for this campaign. Adïam is an Ethiopian-Eritrean visual artist specialising in portrait and research photography, using the lens to shed light on important issues including justice and community development. 

About UK for UNHCR’s winter appeal 

UK for UNHCR’s winter appeal will support internally displaced people in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and Syrian refugees living in the region (Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq). Over the coming months, millions of refugees and displaced families will face sub-zero temperatures, biting winds and winter storms. UNHCR is on the ground providing lifesaving aid and essentials to help families survive the freezing cold winter months. 

About UK for UNHCR 

UK for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner for the UK. We build solidarity, create partnerships and raise funds across the UK to help deliver global humanitarian relief for refugees through UNHCR’s work. 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. It delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, helps safeguard fundamental human rights, and develops solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. UNHCR also works to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.    




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