Support for asylum seekers

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An asylum seeker is someone who comes to the UK, often fleeing persecution, torture or war, and applies for refugee status. Until refugee status is granted, such a person remains an asylum seeker and may be entitled to accommodation and support under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

This support is funded by the Home Office, and in Solihull is administered at a local level by Serco. The Council's New Communities Team works with various council departments and West Midlands Police to ensure accommodation sourced by Serco is appropriate.

Below are details of a wide range of organisations which provide help and support for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants.


You may get free National Health Service (NHS) healthcare, such as to see a doctor or get hospital treatment.

If you receive Asylum Support from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you're entitled to an HC2 certificate.

If you have a HC2 certificate you can get:

  • free prescriptions for medicine
  • free dental care for your teeth
  • free eyesight tests
  • help paying for glasses

The migrant health guide at GOV.UK provides more information.

A General Practitioner (GP) is the first doctor you will usually visit when accessing healthcare in the UK. GPs are highly skilled doctors who are trained in all aspects of general medicine e.g. child health, adult medicine and mental health. Practice nurses are qualified and registered nurses who usually run clinics for long-term conditions e.g. diabetes.

Other healthcare professionals also work in a GP practice, for example pharmacists and physiotherapists. The Local Authority will help you register with a GP surgery, also called a practice, near where you are living as soon as possible, even if you are not currently ill. You can use the NHS website to find out how to register with a GP surgery.

To register with a GP, you will need to give your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • address
  • telephone number, if you have one

GP surgeries may ask to see proof of identity with your name and date of birth (such as your passport or recognised identity card) and proof of address. However, they cannot refuse to register you if these are not available.

After you have registered with your new GP you might be asked to have a health check. This will usually be carried out by a nurse. It is important that you go to this appointment even if you are well. If you move to a different part of the UK, you will need to register with a new GP. You can only be registered with one GP practice.

Your GP may want you to take medicines and will write you a prescription. Take your prescription to the pharmacy or chemist. You can visit the NHS website to find your local pharmacy or ask for advice at your GP surgery.

The pharmacist can also give free advice on treating minor health problems, such as colds and coughs. You can buy some medicines from the pharmacy without a prescription, including some painkillers and cough medicines however you will have to pay for these medicines. You may be charged for prescription medicines.

Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are the most common problems. If you have been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks or your anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your doctor. 

Advice is also available on the NHS website to support you on your way to feeling better. The NHS website also gives details of support organisations and their helplines that you can contact for help and advice.

If you are settling in the UK you will be entitled to NHS dentistry, which is a universal service and does not require residency. NHS dentistry is not free except for patients in an exempt category, so anyone settling in the UK will have to pay just as a UK resident would

Free exemptions apply in the following cases:

  • the treatment is free (for example to remove stitches, stop bleeding in the mouth, repair dentures)
  • the person is under the age of 18, or under 19 in full-time education
  • the person is pregnant or has had a baby in the last 12 months, a MAT B1 certificate or maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) must be shown to the dental practice

Maternity care and services

All maternity care, including all antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal services provided to a pregnant person, a person who has recently given birth, or a baby, is covered by the NHS for an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payer.

Due to the severe health risks associated with conditions such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, and in order to protect the lives of both mother and unborn baby, all maternity services will be treated as being immediately necessary. No one must ever be denied, or have delayed, maternity services due to charging issues.

Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign off by a midwife: this is usually around 10 days after the birth but can be up to 6 weeks postnatally. Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.

Anyone settling in the UK should contact a GP or midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. It's important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy. The NHS website provides all you need to know about pregnancy, labour, birth and NHS maternity services.  

You’ll get extra money to buy healthy food if you’re pregnant or a mother of a child under 3. The amount you get will depend on your situation.

Your situation Extra payment per week
Pregnant mother £3
Baby under 1 year old £5
Child aged 1 to 3 £3

You can apply for a one-off £300 maternity payment if your baby is due in 8 weeks or less, or if your baby is under 6 weeks old.

If you’ve been refused asylum

You can apply for a one-off £250 maternity payment if your baby is due in 8 weeks or less, or if your baby is under 6 weeks old.

Applying for the maternity grant

You apply for the maternity grant in the same way whether you’re still an asylum seeker or you’ve been refused asylum.

You’ll need to request form MAT B1 from your doctor to apply for the payment. You can apply for the maternity payment at the same time you apply for asylum support.

If you get pregnant after you’ve applied for asylum support, you can apply to the support team that dealt with your application for asylum support.


Your children must attend school if they are aged 5 to 17.

All state schools are free and your children may be able to get free school meals.

National Support

Get help by phone if you’re an asylum applicant or refugee and you need advice about the asylum process or adapting to life in the UK.

Find help at GOV.UK

Call Migrant Help UK if you’re an adult asylum seeker or the dependant of an adult asylum seeker.

Migrant Help UK

Migrant Help UK

Telephone: 0808 801 0503

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

(24-hour service for emergencies)

Find out about call charges

Get help through the Migrant Help UK webchat

Fill in the Migrant Help UK contact form

Call the Children’s Panel if you’re a child in the UK on your own and applying for asylum.

Children’s Panel (England only)

Telephone: 020 7346 1134

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm

(limited service at other times)

Find out about call charges