Get help as a refugee

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

This page is available in more languages

Changes to our services during the coronavirus outbreak

  • We are currently updating information on the availability and contact details of our services due to coronavirus, also called Covid-19. If you need refugee services, please keep checking this page.

We will continue to offer our other services for refugees for as long as possible. Find out how we are helping people around the world.

How we can help

We offer help with the urgent needs of refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants. The help we can offer will depend on where you are. It can include:

  • food parcels and vouchers
  • small amounts of cash
  • clothes
  • toiletries
  • blankets
  • baby items.

We may be able to offer further help. Depending on your circumstances and where you live this may include:

  • travel vouchers
  • benefits and career advice
  • health care – registering with a GP or dentist
  • coming with you to appointments
  • adjusting to life in the UK
  • orientation – getting to know your local area
  • emotional support
  • reuniting family.

When you contact us, one of our trained caseworkers will assess your needs to see if we can help. If we can’t, we will refer or signpost you to a service that can.
 
We will provide an interpreter if you can’t speak English.
 
We are not political or religious, we won’t report you to the authorities and our help is free and confidential.

If you have been trafficked

We may be able to help if you are a refugee or asylum seeker who has been trafficked. Please email: antitrafficking@redcross.org.uk 

As well as the help you get as a refugee, we can also give support and advice on what to do next and where to get more help if you have been trafficked.

Help for young refugees

You can get help in some areas of the UK if you are a refugee aged 15 to 25.

Get help as a young refugee

Family reunion (restoring family links)

If you are a refugee, we may be able to help you reunite with your family by:

  • helping with visa applications
  • arranging flights for your family to join you (family reunion travel assistance).

We can only help you apply for family reunion visas in some parts of the UK:

  • London
  • Leeds
  • north-west England
  • Plymouth
  • Glasgow.

There may be a waiting list.

This service is for family members in the UK who have refugee status or humanitarian protection, and need help applying to reunite with a partner, spouse and/or children currently overseas.

If you already have a visa, we will accept new requests for travel assistance from Monday 2 November 2020.

Due to our limited funds, we will be prioritising cases where:

  • The family member/s who want to travel to the UK are unaccompanied children. ‘Unaccompanied’ means that the child/children will be travelling without a parent to come to the UK.
  • There are three or more members of the family needing to travel to the UK. Applications for two people or less will not be accepted.

In addition to the criteria above, the family member in the UK must:

  • be on welfare benefits or earning the national living wage or less
  • have refugee status, or indefinite leave to remain following a grant of refugee status.

However, please note that we sadly cannot guarantee that we will be able to support all families who meet these criteria due to the limits on our charitable funds.

The British Red Cross takes coronavirus restrictions very seriously. Together with our partners the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) who are on the ground overseas, we will make sure that families we support to travel know of any pre-departure checks needed in their country of residence. When they arrive in the UK, we’ll also make sure they understand how to comply with quarantine rules and any local restrictions in place.. 

For detailed information on Covid-19 guidelines before and upon arrival in the UK, please read the UK government’s online guidance.

What can you do if your refugee family reunion visa has expired?

Refugees or their legal representative can ask for their family’s replacement visas via email on CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Your email should include the following:

  • sponsor’s name and date of birth
  • names and date of birth of all family members who have a visa
  • your reference number (this can be found on the grant of visa letter and usually begins with ‘GWF’)
  • contact number and email
  • the Visa Application Centre where the application was submitted
  • a request that the visa is valid for 90 days
  • in the subject line write: Replacement 30-day visa.

For up-to-date information on replacement visas, please visit Coronavirus advice for UK visa applicants and temporary residents.

Contact your local service to find out if they offer family reunion help.

Download your guide to Refugee Family Reunion

The British Red Cross Guide to Refugee Family Reunion can be used by refugees and their families to submit family reunion visa applications when getting qualified legal support is not possible. You can download a copy using the links below. 

It can also be used to better understand who is eligible for refugee family reunion, how to submit an application, and what evidence will be needed.

Please note that this guide is a resource to help refugees understand the family reunion process. It should not be used by unqualified individuals to provide immigration advice on family reunion, as providing immigration advice if you are not qualified and not regulated is an offence under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
 
Please note that the application portal used, and the relevant guide, are determined by the location of the Visa Application Centre, and not by the family members’ nationality. You can download two versions of the guide below. 

Version updated July 2020 - use for most countries 

This version of the guide should be used in most cases as it applies to most countries.

It covers making an application using the website gov.uk/apply-to-come-to-the-uk and includes guidance for uploading evidence electronically.

Version updated June 2017 – mainly Sudan

Please use if the family members applying for visas are going to provide their biometrics in a Visa Application Centre in countries still using the old application system.

 In August 2020 these countries were Sudan, Cuba and Occupied Palestinian Territories (VAC in Jerusalem).

This version of the guide covers making an application using the website visa4uk.fco.gov.uk. Please refer to that website for an up-to-date list of the countries using this application portal.