Families Together

Families Together addressed barriers to successful family reunion and the integration of refugees and migrants in the UK.

Two parents and their daughter stand with their arms around each other outside an airport. They were reunited by the British Red Cross family reunion service.

The Families Together was a grants programme funded by a variety of donors that ran from 2018-2023. It to addressed significant, institutional, regulatory and legal barriers to successful family reunion and the integration of refugees and migrants in the UK at the national, regional and local levels.

Our report, Cuts that Cost, explores the impact of removing legal aid for refugee families trying to reunite with their loved ones in the UK. 

Families belong together

The right to be reunited with your family is protected by UK and international law.

Refugee family reunion and family migration are immigration routes available to refugees and migrants to reunite with their separated loved ones in the UK.

However, there are many challenges to successful family reunification. These range from restrictive policies, regulations and procedures, and their interpretation and implementation, to the enormously high costs to be met by vulnerable families, for what is a basic right to family life.

Helping refugees and migrants in the UK

When it comes to integration, the Families Together programme focused on the integration needs of newly reunited refugee and migrant families. It aims to expand their statutory rights and entitlements, and ensure meaningful access to statutory resources and services, based on those rights and entitlements. 

As a result, the main integration focus of the programme was on the ‘pre-arrival’ and ‘arrival’ phases of integration.

What the grants programme supported

In line with its goals of affecting strategic shifts in the policy and regulatory landscapes, in the above key focus areas, the Families Together programme used its grant fund strategically to support a range of stakeholders to design and deliver:

  • research
  • service delivery
  • communications and campaigns
  • policy and advocacy initiatives. 

Strengthening the sector

To achieve its policy objectives, the programme primarily worked with and through partners from the refugee and migrant family reunion and integration sector. It implemented an improved programme design and delivery, and effective co-ordination and co-operation, through a range of activities.

Key success through partnership work

The British Red Cross and Central England Law Centre (CELC) worked together to identify support needs for reuniting refugee families in the UK. Pre-arrival needs were identified and processes were streamlined to support families and assist them with the reunification process.

  • Creating an integrated model with a single point of entry for families, between two co-ordinating organisations; CELC and the the Red Cross.
  • Replicating the successful Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit model to the Birmingham office. Providing enhanced legal capacity for refugee families.
  • Working with volunteers that have lived experience of family reunion.
  • Secure travel for a family member/s that fall outside of criteria.
  • Families are directly referred to the Red Cross once the family reunion visas are issued.

Measured success

  • The Red Cross has seen an increase to the number of family reunion referrals for support.
  • CLEC have an increase for legal aid applications for family reunion.

Opportunities moving forward

  • The Red Cross and CELC operate throughout the West Midlands, so the model could be rolled out throughout the region. 

Get in touch


Families Together Programme, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL