Where to find help?

I’m in detention, can UNHCR help me? ⬇️

Unfortunately, UNHCR is very limited in the help that we can provide to detainees. If you have fully exhausted your application for asylum in the UK and are in detention awaiting removal to your country of origin, we regret that UNHCR is unlikely to be able to assist you at this stage.

Legal advice in detention is limited to certain contracted legal firms, operating under the Detention Duty Advice Scheme. Since late 2018, there have been about 75 firms providing advice sessions in detention centres.

You should be able to book yourself to attend an on-site appointment with a solicitor from inside the detention centre wherein they will ask you about your immigration case and assess whether it is possible to offer you free legal advice. If the solicitor decides not to take your case, you will not need to pay for their advice. Please ask your detention centre for further information.

Can I get financial and housing support if I am an asylum seeker? ⬇️

If you are an asylum seeker that has a claim pending or if even if you have been refused asylum, you may be eligible for asylum support.

The three main types of support available are: section 95, section 98 and section 4 support. With this support, you may be eligible for housing and financial assistance, or both.

Section 95 Support

You are eligible for section 95 support if you are an asylum seeker with a pending asylum claim and you are over 18 years old and you pass the destitution test. A person is ‘destitute’ if they do not have adequate accommodation or enough money to meet living expenses for themselves and any dependants now or within the next 14 days.

For more information, please refer to the Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) Factsheet on Section 95 Support.

Section 98 Support

Section 98 is temporary support that is provided to asylum seekers who appear to be destitute and who have applied for section 95 support but are awaiting a decision.

For more information, please refer to the ASAP Factsheet on Section 98 Support.

Section 4 Support

Section 4 support is available for refused asylum seekers that meet a certain set of criteria in addition to passing the destitution test.

For more information on the eligibility criteria and the process for this support, please refer to the ASAP Factsheet on Section 4 Support.

More information on Asylum Support can be found through the UK Government website here.

If your application for support is refused

You can contact ASAP who may be able to appeal the decision.  They can be contacted on 📞 0203 716 0283, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 2pm – 4pm, or through their website.

I am a refugee, can I access social welfare / benefits in the UK? ⬇️

Refugees have a right to apply for welfare in the UK, in line with nationals in the country. More information can be found here.

I am a refugee, can I work in the UK? ⬇️

If you are a refugee, you will be able to work in the UK without any restrictions. You will just need your National Insurance number – this is a unique set of letters and numbers that is printed on your Biometric Resident Permit card. More information can be found here in Chapter 4.

There are different services available in the UK to help refugees find employment, for example you can visit your local Job Centre who may be able to help find a job for you. Also, if you already have qualifications, the Job Centre will be able to advise if your qualifications will be accepted in the UK.

Can you assist in tracing my family members? ⬇️

The British Red Cross has an international family tracing service—more details on the process can be found here.

I am a survivor of human trafficking/torture, where can I find assistance? ⬇️

UK has strong policies against trafficking and modern slavery. The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. More information can be found here.

If you are a victim of trafficking or torture, there are many different charities that will be able to support and assist. A few include:

  • Salvation Army provide practical help and have a national presence and work in local communities through their 650 churches throughout the UK and Ireland to serve those that most need their help. You can find your nearest Salvation Army here and learn more about their work here.
  • Nia runs services for women and girls who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution. They offer services around London, including in Hackney, Haringey, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Havering, Newham and Brent and Brent. You can find more information about Nia’s services here, and their number is 📞 020 7683 1270.
  • Hestia provides safe houses and outreach support to victims of modern slavery, domestic abuse, and different disabilities. More information on the type of support they offer can be found here, and information on contacting them can be found here.
  • If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need urgent assistance please contact the Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 📞 0808 2000 247.

Are there opportunities to pursue education as an adult in the UK? ⬇️

There are opportunities for adult learning in the UK. Some colleges and other educational institutions offer full and part-time adult learning courses.

Some of these courses are free of charge whilst others come with a cost.

You will be able to find out about these opportunities by looking at the website of your local authority, the National Careers Services website, or through reading notices in newspapers or in libraries.

There are many universities that have schemes that asylum seekers can apply for. These scholarships can cover tuition costs and living expenses. Some examples of universities with these schemes include:

SOAS University;

Bristol University;

University of Greenwich;

University of Bath.

Student Action for Refugees has a list of Scholarships in the UK which can be found here.

I want to return to my home country. What should I do? ⬇️

If you are considering returning to your country of origin, you can seek advice and assistance from the Central Voluntary Departure team at the Home Office to facilitate your return. This service is available for asylum seekers, refused asylum seekers and irregular migrants, but is unavailable to those who are in detention.

Their contact details are:

Tel: 📞 0300 004 0202

Operating hours: Monday to Friday, 9am – 5:00pm

You may also apply online: https://www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily/apply

Further information can be found on the website: www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily/who-can-get-help

Where can I get non-legal assistance? ⬇️

UNHCR recommends contacting the following organisations for advice on accessing non-legal support and assistance in integrating into the wider community. They are also able to provide information in a number of languages.

For asylum advice, please contact Asylum Help:

Asylum Help

Asylum Help can provide information and support to assist you through the asylum process.
• Asylum Helpline (Advice): 📞 0808 8000 630
• Asylum Helpline (Support Applications): 📞 0808 8000 631
Operates Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 7pm

For more information on asylum advice, please visit – www.gov.uk/government/news/advice-services-for-asylum-seekers-and-refugees-contract-change and – www.gov.uk/one-stop-services.

Refugee Action
A: Refugee Action Head Office, Refugee Action, Victoria Charity Centre, 11 Belgrave Road, London SW1V 1RB
T: 📞 020 7952 1511
E: [email protected]
W: www.refugee-action.org.uk

British Refugee Council (England)
E[email protected]
W: www.refugeecouncil.org.uk

Scottish Refugee Council
E: [email protected]
W: www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk

Welsh Refugee Council
Cardiff office:  Phoenix House, 389 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 1TP
T: 📞 029 2048 9800
Newport office: High Street Chambers, 51 High Street, Newport NP20 1GB
T: 📞 01633266420
Swansea office: Third Floor Grove House, Grove Place, Swansea SA1 5DF
T: 📞 01792630180
Wrexham office: 33, Grovesnor Road, Wrexham L11 1BT
T: 📞 01978363240
All offices’ website: http://welshrefugeecouncil.org.uk/

Freedom from Torture
A: 111 Isledon Road, Islington, London N7 7JW
T: 📞 020 7697 7777
F: 020 7697 7799
W: www.freedomfromtorture.org

The Helen Bamber Foundation
(By referral only)
A: Bruges Place, 15-20 Baynes Street, London NW1 0TF
E: [email protected]
T: 📞 020 3058 2020
F: 020 3058 2050
W: www.helenbamber.org

Medical Justice
A: 86 Durham Road, London N7 7DT
T: 📞 020 7561 7498
F: 08450 529370
E[email protected]

Praxis Community Projects 
(Face to face advice sessions for: Housing Tuesday 10am- 12.30pm, Welfare benefits Thursday 10am- 12.30pm, Immigration Friday 10am- 12.30pm)
Telephone Advice Service: 0207 749 7680
Open hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 2pm- 4pm.
A: Pott Street, London E2 0EF
T: 📞 020 7729 7985
F: 020 7729 0134
E[email protected]

Project London
(Walk-in medical clinic open Mon, Wed, Fri 1-5pm)
A: Pott Street, London E2 0EF
T: 📞 020 8123 6614 or ? 07974 616852

Eaves (The Poppy Project)
T: 📞 020 7735 2062
E: [email protected]

The Salvation Army
(Provides assistance on trafficking, family tracing, homelessness)
A: 101 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BN
T:  📞020 7367 4500
W: www.salvationarmy.org.uk

(Provides assistance to survivors of torture and related international crimes)
A: 87,Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ
T: 📞 020 7793 1777
E: [email protected]

(Advice and support to persons experiencing mental health problems)
T: 📞 0300 123 3393 (operates Monday to Friday, 9am- 6pm)
E: [email protected]

Related information

<< Back to UK homepage
>> Select another country on our Help page