Help for new refugees in Leeds

Find out what to do once you get refugee or humanitarian protection status.

You will need your asylum decision letter from the Home Office and your Biometric Residents Permit (BRP) to:

Contact the Home Office if you have not received your BRP external link.

If you have received a positive decision on your asylum claim, you will have 28 days until you:

  • stop getting any cash allowance
  • have to move house

Your current housing provider MEARS will send you a letter giving you notice to leave your current property.

Someone from MEARS will contact you and guide you through the next steps.

If you haven’t heard from MEARS you can still get help with the next steps from refugee charities in Leeds:

Get help with finding somewhere to live

It is important for you to get in touch with Leeds Housing Options about finding somewhere to live. Speak to one of our housing advisors and tell them you have just got your refugee status and will be made homeless.

The sooner you get in touch with us, the quicker we can help you

Phone: 0113 222 4412
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm​​, except Wednesdays, 10am to 5pm)

If you're worried about being made homeless

You can get advice about your housing rights. Speak to someone from Shelter who can help with what to do external .

You can also get help from Leeds Citizens Advice external link.

Get financial support

Once you get your refugee status, any support with money will stop 28 days after the decision. 

Apply for benefits to help with money 

You may be able to get help with money by applying for benefits and support to help you find work.

Contact Citizens Advice to find out what benefits you may get external link.

Get support with finding the right benefits by contacting RETAS in Leeds external link.

Help with paying for a home

You may be able to get help with getting money together for rent or essential items like a cooker or fridge.  This is called a refugee integration loan. 

The amount you can get will depend on your situation and how much money is available. Apply for an integration loan on GOV.UK external link.

If you need help with the application, contact Citizens Advice external link.

Open a bank account

It is important to open a bank account as soon as you have your refugee status. This is to keep your money safe and receive any payments, including your wage from a job or benefits.

To open a bank account, you will need to prove your:

  • identity
  • immigration status
  • address

Many banks offer free accounts which means you don’t need to pay to have an account with them. Ask to open a 'basic bank account'.

Find more information about basic bank accounts on Money Saving Experts external link.

If you cannot open an account with a bank

If you have problems with opening a basic bank account, you can open a Credit Union account instead. These are an alternative to banks. 

Find out how to joining the Credit Union external link.

Look for work

Now that you have permission to work in the UK, there are many ways to search for jobs if you are ready to look for work.


You can search for jobs using GOV.UK online external link.

Speak to someone

Get help with looking for work from:

You can speak to your local Jobcentre Plus who can help with looking for a job. Contact the Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

Your skills and education

If you were a professional in your country or had specialist skills and education, you could have these recognised in the UK.

Find more information on how to get your skills recognised in the UK by contacting UK ENIC (formerly UK NARIC) external link.

Find out how to improve your skills to help you find a job by:

There are many organisations where you can learn to speak English. Some classes are free and others may cost.

Find English classes near you with Learning English external link.

Find a school or childcare

If you have children they must go to school from the age of 5 and most children in the UK start school at 4 years old. You will need to find a school near your new home that has school places.


If you need help with looking after your children because you’re working, you can find help with this. Find more information on childcare on the Family Information Hub external link.

If you want help with your new life in Leeds

You can contact organisations who can offer support and advice to help you settle in your new life in Leeds.

Find out more at external link.

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