Finances, housing, employment and practical support

You will need some support to provide for your most basic needs. However, this can be difficult if you have recently arrived in the UK. The section below offers information about how to access certain benefits and support in relation to housing and employment. 

Finances and benefits

Whether or not you are entitled to certain benefits will depend on your immigration status, whether you are looking for work or unable to work. To receive benefits, you will need to apply for them through your local authority, who will decide on your entitlement. When the benefits office sends you a letter about their decision, if you do not agree with the decision, you can ask them to explain or reconsider it. If you are still unhappy, you can appeal.

If, however, you are subject to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition then you are unable to claim any benefits that are classed as ‘public funds.’ This means that you cannot claim means-tested benefits, such as Council Tax Reduction, housing benefit and universal credit. Submitting a claim for benefits when you are subject to NRPF condition can impact your current immigration status and the outcome of any future immigration process, as the Home Office may consider that you have breached your immigration conditions.

The rules around benefit eligibility are complex and detailed. There can be exceptions though, so it is best to read the latest information on the NRPF condition here. General information about all benefits can be found here. Legal advice should be sought from an immigration or benefits adviser if you are unclear about what you can claim, or if you are concerned about any benefits.

There are also several organisations that provide specialist information on benefits and other financial support, see Getting help below.

If you are a destitute asylum seeker (for example, you cannot meet your living expenses and are homeless), or you are a refused asylum seeker, there may be other types of financial support provided to you by the Home Office, such as cash and accommodation. You may need specialist advice from an immigration advisor. For more information about support for failed asylum seekers, see here.

Housing

One of the most important parts of rebuilding your life in the UK will be finding a place to live, a place where you can live safely and in a dignified manner. There are two main types of housing in the UK: social and private. The waiting lists for social housing are often very long, because social housing usually charges lower rents than private housing.

There are complex rules governing eligibility for social housing, and the assistance to which you are entitled depends on your immigration status. A person who is subject to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition will generally not be eligible for homelessness assistance or social housing.

If you are a destitute asylum seeker (for example, you cannot meet your living expenses and are homeless), or you are a refused asylum seeker, there may be other types of financial support provided to you by the Home Office, such as cash and accommodation. You will most likely need to obtain specialist immigration or housing advice. For more information about support for failed asylum seekers, see here.

The UK government also has a Civil Legal Advice helpline that provides free and confidential advice on some housing issues. See details under Getting help below.

Anyone who is being evicted, or at risk of homelessness for another reason, should seek advice from a housing adviser as soon as possible. See the table below for a list of organisations that may be able to support you.

Employment and Education

There can be many barriers to finding suitable and dignified employment for survivors of torture and asylum seekers. It may be that your immigration status prevents you from working, or you have difficulties with the English language, or that you require certification or diplomas to enter a specific sector. Discrimination can also impact your ability to find work. If you are allowed to work, the first step would be to contact your local job centre, the details of which can be found here.

You may also be thinking about ways in which you can study and gain new skills. This can include English language lessons, learning a practical skill to help you find employment or pursuing higher education such as college or university. See Getting help below for organisations that can help you with accessing employment and education opportunities.

Community Support

Developing friendships and finding hobbies or projects you are passionate about may also help you to deal with the effects of torture. This could include gardening, creative arts, activism, cooking, or whatever else you enjoy. It isn’t always easy to take the first step and you may need encouragement and support from others. Refugee organisations can help connect you to similar people and support groups or to services that will help you settle into life here. See Getting help below.

Children and Young People Support

Most legal, health and therapeutic practitioners are not trained to help unaccompanied and potentially traumatised children from different cultural backgrounds who may have overwhelming feelings of loss, separation, or survivor’s guilt. If you are a child or young person who has been subjected to torture or know of one, there are organisations that may be able to support you with child-specific advice and support under Getting help below. This can include information relating to immigration for young refugees or migrants, education, or issues with the police.

The UK government also has a Civil Legal Advice helpline that provides free and confidential advice on some education issues. See details under Getting help below.

Getting help

The table below includes organisations that may be able to support you with advice on housing, financial support, education, employment, community integration and children’s rights:

Organisation Description Contact
Citizens Advice Bureau General advice on housing, financial support, and benefits

0800 144 8848

Website

Turn2us Support with benefits, grants, energy, and water bills

0808 802 2000

Website

AgeUK Benefits advice for anyone who is over State Pension age

0800 169 6565

Website

Shelter Housing support for homeless people, those facing eviction, and requiring repairs

0808 800 4444

Website

Refugee Council Housing, education and training support for adults and children with newly granted refugee status

02073466700

[email protected]

Website

Refugee Action Advice on housing, poverty, asylum process and community integration

0207 952 1511

[email protected]

Website

Freedom from Torture Holistic support to survivors of torture across the UK

020 7697 7777

[email protected]

Website

Helen Bamber Foundation Supporting survivors of torture and trafficking who do not have status in the UK with legal support, therapy, medical advice housing and welfare

call 0203 058 2020 or email [email protected]

Website

Breaking Barriers Supporting refugees in London with education and employment

[email protected]

Website

Refugee Education Education support for refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking

[email protected]

Website

 

Article 26 Education, Bursaries and scholarship support for refugees

[email protected]

Website

Migrants Organise Activist platform for refugees and migrants to organise for power, dignity and justice

020 8964 4815

[email protected]

Website

Coram Children’s Legal Centre Legal advice on children’s rights, immigration, protection and juvenile justice

[email protected]

Website

Child Law Advice Free legal advice and information on child, family and education law for parents, carers and young people

0300 330 5480

Website

Gingerbread Support and advice for single parent families

0808 802 0925

Website

Just for Kids Law Support for children and young people on school issues, immigration and police

0203 174 2279

[email protected]

Website

The Children’s Society Support for unaccompanied minors, including community integration, life skills, locating a legal guardian

0300 303 7000

[email protected]

Website

The UK government also has a Civil Legal Advice helpline that provides free and confidential advice. They provide support on:

  • debt, if your home is at risk
  • housing, if you’re homeless or at risk of being evicted
  • domestic abuse
  • separating from an abusive partner, when you are making arrangements for children or sorting out money and property
  • a child being taken into care
  • special education needs
  • discrimination
  • some child abduction cases

You will need to be eligible for legal aid to access this support. To check if you have access to legal aid, click here. The Civil Legal Advice helpline is available by telephone: 0345 345 4 345

If you are a survivor, there are several organisations in the UK that can support you in rebuilding your life. Find out more in the pages below: