Help for refugees and asylum seekers

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker, the British Red Cross may be able to help you.

Our services for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

This page is also available in other languages.

The British Red Cross is the UK’s largest independent provider of services and support for refugees and people seeking asylum.

We offer emergency help, one-to-one support and casework, special services for children and families, and family reunions.

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker in the UK who needs help, or someone who works with refugees and people seeking asylum, our teams will speak to you and help you figure out what you need.

We can offer help from the Red Cross, or refer you to other organisations for support.


Practical help for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

We can help refugees by giving essentials including:

  • food
  • small amounts of cash
  • toiletries

We also offer specialist services for young refugees and asylum seekers.

The Red Cross helps refugees of every religion, and none, and we will not report you to the authorities.


Help for Ukrainian refugees

We have a separate web page with more information and support for refugees from Ukraine who are in coming to the UK . This includes information on the family migration visa and the Ukrainian family scheme.

Information on the policy to send asylum seekers in the UK to Rwanda

The government announced a new migration plan on 14 April 2022. It could see some asylum seekers in the UK without a visa or other permission to enter the country sent to Rwanda to have their asylum claim processed and decided there.

Find out more about this policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Help with life in the UK for refugees and asylum seekers

When refugees and asylum seekers first arrive in the UK, they may need help getting used to life here and learning how to get the services they need.

Depending on where you are in the country, the Red Cross can help in many ways, from travel vouchers to coming with you to appointments.

Once you get settled, we can help you get used to life in the UK, including getting to know your local area, counselling, and benefits and career advice. If you don’t speak English, we can provide an interpreter.

You can learn more about the support for asylum seekers in the UK on the UK government's official asylum support page.

The government site also has information on the streamlined asylum process.

Can UK citizens house a refugee?

Right now, UK citizens can house refugees from Ukraine with the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme. If you're a refugee from Ukraine, you can find out more about the Homes for Ukraine guidance for guests.

There are also numerous schemes in place to help support and house refugees from other countries that the Red Cross can help connect you with. You can contact your local refugee service for more information and advice on these schemes.


Can refugees apply for citizenship in the UK

In the UK, refugees can apply for citizenship after six years. After five years of holding the Refugee Status, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and after one year of ILR, you can apply for British citizenship.

If you're a refugee seeking help with your ILR status, you can contact the Home Office for support. Use the home office contact number for indefinite leave to remain: 0333 305 9375.

The Red Cross can also support refugees in applying for citizenship in the UK. If you're an asylum seeker or refugee in the UK seeking help to gain Refugee Status, the British Cross can support you. If you're not granted Refugee Status, it may be possible to be granted Humanitarian Protection. This grants you five years' leave to remain in the UK.

Online help for refugees and asylum seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers can learn more about settling into life in the UK by watching these online videos and downloading the information. This includes topics how to stay safe, and how to deal with loneliness and isolation. 


Refugees or asylum seekers who have been trafficked

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker who has been trafficked, we may be able to give support and advice on what to do next, and where to get more help.

Please email:

You can also get advice on how to stay safe and avoid trafficking while travelling in the European Union

War crimes and other international crimes: definition, and where to report

Serious violations of ‘International Humanitarian Law’ (IHL), also known as the ‘Laws or Customs of war’, constitute war crimes.  

IHL is applicable in international and non-international armed conflicts.  Serious violations of IHL can involve conduct endangering ‘persons’ or ‘objects’ protected under IHL.  

Examples include wilful killing, torture, causing serious injury to prisoners of war, rape of civilians, and intentional destruction of cultural objects.

War crimes are a type of international crime. Other international crimes which might be committed during armed conflicts include genocide, crimes against humanity and torture. 

If you are a victim of, or witness to, any of the above international crimes, you can report these to the police.

Looking for family in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan: further information and support

Family members affected by the recent developments in Afghanistan

We are sorry that our refugee family reunion travel assistance service in Afghanistan is currently suspended due to the security situation.

For information on how to request assistance for family members in Afghanistan, and for the Afghan resettlement scheme, please visit the dedicated UK government web page.

For information on resettlement routes for Afghan nationals, please refer to the dedicated UK government factsheet.