Support for refugees

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

Our services for refugees

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

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

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker 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

We can give help with essentials including:

  • food
  • small amounts of cash
  • toiletries

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

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


Help for Ukrainian nationals

We have a separate web page with more information and support for people from Ukraine who are in or 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 to Rwanda

The government announced a new migration plan on 14 April 2022. It could see some people who came to 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.


Help with life in the UK

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.

Medical and dental care for refugees

Everyone in the UK is entitled to use the National Health Service (NHS). The first step is to register with a general practitioner (called a GP or family doctor). The Red Cross can often help you do this, depending on where you are in the UK.

If you have problems with your teeth, we can also help you register with a dentist. 



Get help online

You can watch videos and download information about settling into life in the UK, how to stay safe, and how to deal with loneliness and isolation. 

People 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.

Family reunion

Every year, the Red Cross helps reunite hundreds of separated families.

Since 2011, we have worked w`ith the International Organisation for Migration to reunite over 10,000 people with their family members. Nine out of ten have been women and children joining husbands and fathers in the UK.

Get help to apply for a family reunion visa

We help people with family reunion visa applications, including collecting evidence and filling in forms. We also offer travel assistance to help arrange flights for your family to join you.

We may be able to offer support with your visa application if you:



Refugee family reunion guide

You can use our guidance to submit family reunion visa applications if you don't have professional legal support. It also outlines who is eligible, how to submit an application, and what evidence will be needed.

Providing immigration advice if you are not qualified and not regulated is an offence under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

This guide covers making an application using the website It contains guidance for uploading evidence electronically. 
Download our guide to refugee family reunion (PDF, 2MB)

Apply for travel assistance

We may be able to offer you support if you:

  • have a visa for your family members
  • get government benefits, or earn the national living wage or less.

And if your family members travelling to the UK are either:

  • a child or children without a parent (we also call this ‘unaccompanied children’), or
  • three or more members of the same family.

We try to help as many people as possible.


Coronavirus restrictions

We work with the International Organisation for Migration to make sure family members know what coronavirus (Covid-19) pre-departure checks are needed.

When they arrive in the UK, we help them understand any quarantine rules that are in place and tell them about local restrictions.

Government guidance on travel to the UK during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic

Government guidance on UK visa applicants and temporary residents during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic

Ask your local refugee service if they offer help with family reunion 

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.

Every refugee matters

The government is making big changes to the asylum system through the Nationality and Borders Bill, which has now passed into law. People seeking asylum are currently assessed based on the dangers they have fled. Under the new law, people will be treated differently depending on how they got to the UK.

The Red Cross is concerned that this could lead to less support for refugees, more poverty and difficulty uniting families. Asylum seekers could even be put in prison.

We’re calling for a kinder and more compassionate way to support refugees. Stand with us and pledge your support.