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Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

You are an Asylum Seeker if you have to leave your country to seek protection in another country such as the UK. If you would like to stay in the UK you need to formally apply for asylum when you arrive

Read more on our Immigration and asylum page.

Newcastle City Council is a recognised City of Sanctuary and are committed to welcome people seeking sanctuary and help rebuild their lives. Read more about the asylum process in Newcastle on www.newcastle.gov.uk

When claiming asylum in the UK you may need support and advice. There are local services that can help with:

legal advice

emotional and practical support

housing support

accessing health services

social and physical activity

benefits advice

refused asylum seekers

While you wait for a decision about your claim for asylum, you may be able to access Asylum support to help with housing and benefits. If you have children, they will be able to attend free state school and you may be able to get free health treatment on the NHS.

If you are granted leave to stay in the country, you will then become recognised as refuges and given formal documentation. This means you may be given permission to stay in the UK for up to 5 years and you may be able to get a job. You may then be able to apply for further leave.


Legal advice

Citizen’s Advice Newcastle (CAN) can give you free, confidential, impartial and independent advice and information on a wide range of subjects including benefits, housing, employment, legal matters, immigration and family and personal matters.

North East Law Centre provides free confidential legal advice on immigration and asylum issues to people in Newcastle.

Where to get legal advice find more on InformationNOW

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Emotional and practical support

The North of England Refugee Service provides confidential advice and support on all matters relating to asylum seekers and refugees.

The West End Refugee Service (WERS) is a registered charity working with refugees and asylum seekers living in the West End of Newcastle. Their services include:

  • advice sessions
  • counselling service
  • home visits
  • befriending scheme
  • free clothing store
  • emergency hardship fund
  • Skills Match where you can find volunteering opportunities in Newcastle that match your skills, experiences and interests

Acane (African Community Advice North East provides support for the settlement of asylum seekers and refugees from the African continent in the North East.

Peace of Mind Communities run projects to help refugees and asylum seekers. Their projects include:

  • an advice drop in session
  • a small dedicated fund to help destitute refugees and asylum seekers in emergencies
  • help to fill the holiday gap with activities and refreshments for children and carers during the holidays
  • occasional training sessions such as parenting or community safety
  • Bensham Community Food Co-op

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Housing support

If you have claimed asylum and are awaiting a decision you can apply for financial support and housing from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) which is part of the Home Office. The council is not responsible for placing or accommodating asylum seekers. They liaise with the housing providers contracted by UKIV. Contact these housing providers directly if you have any issues with housing or financial support G4S and Jomast

Asylum Team at Newcastle City Council support people during the asylum process. They support the ‘move on’ process if you are granted refugee status. They offer advice and signposting if you receive a negative decision on your asylum claim.

Your Homes Newcastle Refugee Move On Team help people granted leave to stay in the UK who have to leave their asylum accommodation. They can help you to apply for benefits.

Action Letting let properties to homeless refugees in flexible and affordable ways to enable them to access private rented housing.

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Accessing health services

Interpreters

GP services

Free prescriptions

Safe Surgeries

Pharmacy

Non urgent medical advice

Walk-in or Urgent Treatment centres

Emergency Services: Ambulance

Accident and Emergency department (A&E)

Dentists

Optician

NHS Screening programmes

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

Mental health emergency or crisis support

Maternity Services

Paying for health services

Support to improve your health

Drugs and alcohol

Sexual health

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Interpreters

If you are unable to speak or understand English well, you are entitled to have an interpreter at NHS services. Say ‘interpreter’ to the receptionist and the language you need. When ringing 999 or NHS 111, say the language you need and they will get someone on the phone. This is a free service.

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NHS GP services

You and your family need to register at a local doctor called a GP. Anyone can register at a GP for free. You need to make an appointment. You may need to wait unless it is urgent. If you need an urgent appointment tell the receptionist.

If your GP decides you need medicine, they will give you a prescription. To get your medicine, take the prescription to a pharmacy

Your GP can refer you to a specialist at a hospital. If eligible, your GP can provide a range of free immunisations to protect against certain diseases

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Free prescriptions with a HC2 certifcate

If you are receiving asylum support, you should have an HC2 certificate which allows you and your dependants to get free prescriptions, free dental care, eye tests and spectacles. If you do not have an HC2, you need to fill in an HC1 form. If you need help with these forms, contact West End Refugee Service (WERS) or North England Refugee Service (NERS).

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Safe Surgeries Newcastle

Safe Surgeries are GP practices that are safe for everyone to use. You can register as a patient if you do not have proof of your: identification, address or immigration status or speak another language. They display posters so that you know the surgery is a safe place. Interpreters can be used if needed. For more information contact Doctors of the World UK

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Pharmacy

A Pharmacy (chemist) provides prescription and non-prescription medicine and advice. Some pharmacists are trained to give help with emergency contraception and sexual health.

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Non urgent medical advice from NHS 111

NHS 111 give medical advice over the phone. It is open 24 hours a day. If you do not need to see a GP, they will give you general advice or refer you to a pharmacy. They can book an appointment for you at your GP or Walk-in centre. If it is an emergency they will refer you to A&E and can arrange an ambulance.

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Walk-in or Urgent Treatment centres

You can use these for minor injuries or urgent care. You do not need an appointment to be seen:

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Emergency Services: Ambulance

Call 999 (free) if there has been a serious accident or if you or someone else is:

  • bleeding a lot
  • finding it hard to breathe
  • feeling severe pain in the chest
  • showing signs of stroke including sudden
  • weakness on one side of the body/face
  • unconscious

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NHS Accident and Emergency department (A&E)

A&E is based in hospitals for people who are very ill or seriously hurt, and should only be used in an emergency. You can arrive at any time at A&E and you may have to wait to be seen depending on how ill you are and how busy they are. Appointments are not needed and they are free to use for everyone.

Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle, entrance on Richardson Road. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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NHS Dentists

You need to register for free with an NHS Dentist for any treatment to your teeth. Children receive free dental care and adults may have to pay for some treatment. Find out if you can get help to pay for NHS health costs here.

Visit the NHS.UK or the Newcastle Gateshead CCG websites to search for a list of your local dentists. If you can’t find a dentist accepting NHS patients, you should call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.

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Opticians

You need to make an appointment with an optician to get your eyes checked. If you have an HC2 form you will get eye tests free, your optician will tell you if you need to pay extra for some products.

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NHS Screening programmes

Screening helps find diseases like cancer and is free for those with HC2 forms. If you get a letter about screening it is important you arrange to have this done. You will be offered screenings:

  • cervical cancer for women aged 25 to 65
  • breast cancer for women aged 50 to 70
  • bowel cancer for men and women aged 60 to 74

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Mental health and emotional wellbeing

Are you feeling low, anxious, stressed or worried? Finding it difficult to cope or not sleeping well? Contact your GP for an appointment. They will give you advice and refer you for more support from services.

You can contact the following mental health services for help:

Newcastle Talking Helps is for people in Newcastle who have mental health difficulties. Ask your GP for a referral  or fill out an online referral here.

MIND can help if you’re experiencing mental health problems or going through a difficult time in your life. They can help you live the best life you can, whatever challenges you face.

Samaritans offer a safe, listening ear if you are in distress. Call their free helpline 24 hours a day . You don’t have to be suicidal to use their helpline or text 07725 909090.

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Mental health emergency or crisis support

If you are hurt or at immediate risk you call 999.

Mental health services 24 hour support read more about getting help with a mental health problem outside normal working hours.

Newcastle Crisis resolution and home based treatment team can help with your urgent mental health needs. You can contact them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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NHS Maternity Services

Maternity care is free for all asylum seekers, refugees and refused asylum seekers receiving Home Office support. Maternity care is classed as immediately necessary and urgent and should never be withheld. Speak to your GP surgery to book an appointment with a midwife.

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Paying for health services

Doctors of the World UK can help if you have receive a bill or you need advice about whether you may be charged for a health service.

Maternity Action can help if it’s related to maternity costs telephone 0808 802 0029

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Support to improve your health

HealthWORKS Newcastle can support you to improve your health. They can help you to stop smoking, exercise, learn to cook and support with breastfeeding. They have 2 venues:

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Drugs and alcohol

Change, Grow, Live help adults and young people in Newcastle with drug and alcohol problems to reduce their use or stop using safely.

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Sexual health

New Croft NHS Sexual Health Clinic provides free and confidential sexual health services. For more information:

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Rainbow Home provides support for LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in North East England.

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Social and physical activity

Active Newcastle offers a range of social and fitness activities, including walking groups, across the city.

Fitness activities page on InformationNOW has a full list of all of gyms and leisure centres in Newcastle. There is a cost for these services.

Find local swimming pools and leisure centres in Newcastle 

Events and activities can be found on InformationNOW. Search the calendar to find out what’s happening near you. Some activities are free or low cost.

The Comfrey Project works with refugees and asylum seekers on allotment sites across Newcastle and Gateshead. You can get involved in gardening to help improve your wellbeing.

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Benefits advice

Citizen’s Advice Newcastle (CAN) give you free, confidential, impartial and independent advice and information on a wide range of subjects including benefits, housing, employment, legal matters, immigration and family and personal matters.

Newcastle Welfare Rights Service give benefits advice to people in priority groups including those over 65. They have self help material on their website.

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Refused Asylum Seekers

If your application for asylum is not successful you may refused asylum. You may be at risk of homelessness or destitution.

You can still apply for short-term support if you’ve been refused asylum and are preparing to leave the UK.

Asylum Team at Newcastle City Council offer advice and signposting if you receive a negative decision on your asylum claim.

Refused asylum seekers, even if homeless or destitute, may be charged for some health care.

You can still use for free:

  • register with a GP
  • Accident and Emergency services (A&E), including Walk-in or Urgent Treatment centres
  • NHS 111 telephone advice line
  • treatment for specific infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections (e.g. TB, HIV)
  • treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by: torture; FGM; domestic violence or sexual violence
  • health visitors, school nurses & family planning
  • end of life care

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Information above taken from the Newcastle Health Access Card (first edition October 2018) developed Public Health, Newcastle City Council in partnership with the Regional Refugee Forum and HAREF (part of Newcastle CVS).

Last updated: October 4, 2019

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