Support for refugees

There is specific support and advice available for refugees concerned about their cost of living:

Refugee Support Group – Berkshire’s Refugee Charity in Reading, helps refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives in Berkshire.

They currently support asylum seekers and refugees more than 50 countries who have sought sanctuary in the UK.

The charity takes a holistic approach and provides a safe space. Service users can access OISC-accredited immigration and accredited advice. They can get practical support and information about social activities. You can find details on their website or by contacting the office on 01189505356.

RSG help to identify the needs of the service users and signpost to the appropriate services. They also advocate on behalf of clients and will refer to other agencies where specialist advice is needed in matters including housing and welfare.

For more information, call 01189 505 356 or email

Top 5 things to do

We recommend you complete the following actions when you arrive in Reading. They will ensure you have all the services you need.

  1. Register with a doctor’s surgery. The surgery is where you would usually go if you have a health problem. They can treat many conditions and give health advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services. After registering, you will get an NHS number.
  2. Book to receive your COVID vaccine. You can call 119 or use the NHS online booking system to book your vaccination.
  3. Apply for a UK bank account. You will need a UK bank account to receive wages and social security benefits. 
  4. Register to get a National Insurance number. Anyone who wants to work in the UK must have a National Insurance (NI) number. The government uses it to record your taxes while you’re employed in the UK.
  5. Apply for social security benefits. You can claim certain benefits while you are looking for work. You can find more information on how to apply for benefits in the welfare and benefits section.

Bank accounts

You will need a UK bank account to receive wages and social security benefits. These banks have offered to support with opening an account:

Welfare and benefits

Claim Universal Credit

The UK government pay Universal Credit to people of working age who have a low income or no income. This covers benefits whilst you are seeking work. We recommend that you apply for this immediately if you do not currently have a job in the UK.

It will take about 5 weeks before you get the first payment. You can ask your work coach to arrange for an advance. The advance is a loan which you will need to pay back.

Check whether you can claim Universal Credit

Claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible to claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

Claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

Other social security benefits

You may be entitled to other social security benefits if:

  • you are caring for children
  • you are age 66 or over
  • you have a health or disability condition
  • you are caring for someone with a health or disability condition

You should check the Entitledto website to see if you could claim any other benefits.

Help to claim

Help to claim gives free and confidential support to help you make a Universal Credit claim. People using the service get advice on anything to do with applying for the benefit.
The online chat is available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday
Telephone: 0800 144 8444 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)

Debt helpline

You can call or chat to an advisor online if you’re having issues with money or debt. The online chat is available 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.
Telephone: 0800 240 4420 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Physical health

You can call or chat to an advisor online if you’re having issues with money or debt. The online chat is available 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.
Telephone: 0800 240 4420 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Find an NHS dentist

The NHS will provide necessary treatment to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy and free of pain.

Find an NHS dentist

Health for children

Berkshire healthcare provide information and support for school-age children. They make sure the children get appropriate health support, including immunisation and vaccination.
Public Health Nursing (health visiting, school nursing, immunisation) services
School-aged immunisation team

Healthwatch Reading

Healthwatch Reading can help you get the health and social care services you need. You can search the Healthwatch Reading website for information on a variety of health care services.

Mental health

Children’s mental health services (CAMHS)

The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) can help young people suffering from a variety of problems. They can support those who self-harm or have eating disorders. They can also help those who are feeling very low, hearing voices or even considering killing themselves.

If you or your child are having a tough time, it’s important that you seek help.

Contact Children, Young People and Families (CYPF) to get a referral.

If you have urgent concerns about your child’s mental health contact CAMHS CPE.
Telephone: 0300 365 1234 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday or 0800 129 9999 outside these hours.
The out of hours number is Berkshire Adults Mental Health Crisis Team. This team can take calls from young people and parents/carers.

Talking Therapies

Talking Therapies offers support if you are over 16 and experiencing challenges like depression, stress, anxiety or phobias.
Telephone: 0300 365 2000

Community Outreach

Reading Community Outreach Service provides mental health support in the Reading community to improve wellbeing with personalised support delivered by Peer Outreach Workers. Staff bring an empathetic approach to support clients to work towards their goals.

Telephone: 020 3962 8201


Work and volunteering

Job Centre Plus

Jobcentre Plus is a government-funded employment agency and social security office. They aim to help people of working age find employment.
Telephone: 0845 604 3719
Address: Adelphi House, Friar Street, Reading RG1 1HD

Reading Voluntary Action

Reading Voluntary Action work to:

  • encourage volunteering and social action
  • support the voluntary sector to grow and thrive
  • connect communities in Reading
  • improve the lives of young people and families

Telephone: 0118 937 2273
Address: 3rd floor, Central Library, Reading RG1 3BQ

Job fairs

Job fairs are held at Reading Town Hall. These are free to attend and can be booked in advance.


Graft provides help for job seekers, with accessible training designed to improve employability. Phone or email them on 0118 380 5950 or

Smart Works

Smart Works provides support to women about careers and interview clothing. Contact them on 0118 959 4245.


Enrol into a school

Reading has schools for children all around the borough. If you’d like to enrol a child in a school, please contact: or phone 0118 937 3777 (option 1).
Find more information about school admissions and term times

Family Information Service/Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Family Information Service/Special Educational Needs and Disabilities provides information on funded childcare options. It also offers support for children and young adults with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
Telephone: 0118 937 3777 (option 2)

Brighter Futures for Children

Brighter Futures for Children is an independent, not-for-profit-company. It aims to deliver the best possible opportunities for the children of Reading. They deliver children’s social care, early help & prevention, and educational services.

Elevate Careers Service

Elevate Careers Service supports 16-18 year old young people to make informed career choices about their future and help them re-engage in education, employment or training.

Telephone: 0118 937 3766

Voluntary and charity services

Age UK

Age UK:

  • can give good quality information booklets on many issues affecting older people
  • can refer people to relevant services
  • runs a befriending service for older people
  • runs social and therapeutic dementia sessions

Telephone: 0118 950 2480

Christian Community Action

Christian Community Action provides furniture, bedding and kitchen starter packs at greatly discounted prices.

Telephone number: 0118 951 2337

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice give support and advice on:

  • benefits
  • work
  • debt and money
  • housing
  • law and courts
  • immigration
  • health

Telephone: 0808 278 7819 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)


CommuniCare is a local charity that offers information, advice and support. They can help with:

  • benefits – giving advice and helping with applications
  • education – helping register children for school places
  • form filling
  • health – helping to register at a doctor’s surgery
  • housing – giving advice and referring to the relevant organisations

Telephone: 0118 926 3941

First Days

First Days can help with a wide range of products and essential items from beds, cots, buggies, nappies, clothes, school uniform and toys etc.

Refugee Support Group (RRSG)

Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) helps refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives. They run English classes and assist with accessing education, volunteering and employment. They also organise events throughout the week, with large coffee mornings on Fridays. Their City of Sanctuary project also offers refugees a free hot drink or snack at a Sanctuary Cafe:

  1.   The Atrium Cafe – Greyfriars Church, Friar Street, Reading RG1 1EH
  2. Cafe 12 – Lifespring Church, The Pavillion, 143-145 Oxford Road, Reading RG1 7UY
  3. Monty’s Cafe – 41 Addington Road, Reading RF1 5PZ
  4. Shed Cafe – 8 Merchants Place, Reading RG1 1DT
  5. University of Reading cafes (all cafes on campus) – Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AH

Telephone: 0118 950 5356

Reading Voluntary Action (RVA)

The Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) website lists many charitable organisations and services. It may be useful to help you find relevant services.

Sanctuary Hosting

Sanctuary Hosting matches volunteer hosts with refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable migrants. They provide temporary housing for those at risk of homelessness.
Telephone: 07926 930848

Space is Supportive

Sanctuary Hosting matches volunteer hosts with refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants. They provide temporary housing for those at risk of homelessness.
Telephone: 07926 930848

The Cowshed

The Cowshed can provide:

  • clean and ironed clothing for any age
  • bedding and towels
  • school uniform
  • toiletries, including nappies
  • baby food and formula
  • children’s toys and books
  • baby equipment

Referrals can be made by support services such as GPs, health visitors, churches, charities and social service agencies

The Mustard Tree

The Mustard Tree supports and empowers the marginalised or overlooked. They create and support projects which address unmet needs.


Reading Borough Council provides support and advice on how to manage any housing needs.


You can get housing advice from our housing web pages and housing department.
Telephone: 0118 937 2165 (please leave a message and they will call you back)

Food and groceries

We have advice about helping with the cost of food.

Dee Caf

Dee Caf offers a community fridge and cooked meals. Their normal service is Wednesdays, 3.00 to 3.30pm.
Telephone: 0118 9960478
Address: Unit 1, Montague House, 12 Spey Road, Tilehurst RG30 4DG


CIRDIC offers cooked meals, food, clothes and showers. Their normal service is Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, 10am to 1.30pm and Sunday sit-down meal 9 to 10am.
Telephone: 0118 950 2536
Address: St Saviours Church Hall, Berkeley Avenue, Reading RG1 6JT

Green Space

Green Space allows residents to grow fresh food.
Telephone: 0118 950 7656

New Beginnings

New Beginnings offers food, meals, toiletries and clothes. Cooked meals are offered on Tuesdays, 6 to 7pm. Warm drinks, fresh produce and other food is available on Wednesdays, 12 to 1pm, Thursdays and Fridays, 6 to 7pm.


ReadiFood gives out food to people who have been referred to them. You can get a referral from a professional body or agency if you are in need.
Telephone: 0118 987 2672
Address: 79 Silver Street, Reading RG1 2SU


Sadaka offers cooked meals with a vegetarian option available. They also offer food bags and toiletries on Saturdays, 11.30am to 1pm.
Telephone: 0118 324 6565
Address: Fairview Centre, Great Knollys Street, Reading RG1 7HL

The Way Ministry

The Way Ministry offers cooked meals on Sundays, 3 to 4pm.
Telephone: 07421 998208
Address: Queens Arms, Great Knollys Street, Reading RG1 7HL

Weller Centre

Weller Centre offers fresh food and long shelf-life food on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 9.30am.
Telephone: 0118 947 5828
Address: 110 Amersham Road, Reading RG4 5NA

Whitley Community Development Association

Whitley Community Development Association offers a community cafe, fresh and long life food on weekdays, 9am to 1pm.
Telephone: 0118 374 0052
Address: 252-260 Northumberland Avenue, Reading RG2 7QA

Emergency services

Telephone: 999 for all emergencies concerning police, fire or ambulance
Telephone: 111 for advice on health concerns
Telephone: 101 for non-urgent enquiries.

If you think someone is at risk of harm you must tell someone. More information on protecting children and protecting adults.

Life events

Reading Registry Office Services are where you:

  • register a birth or death
  • get a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate
  • give notice of marriage

Telephone: 0118 937 3533

Vehicles and transport

Jobcentre Travel discounts

Contact Reading Jobcentre for information on reduced price travel options: ttps://

Parking for disabled people

The Blue Badge scheme allows people to park closer to their destination. They are issued to people, not vehicles. This means a Blue Badge holder can use it in any vehicle they travel in.

Adult education

Earley Crescent Resource Centre

Earley Crescent Resource Centre offers English classes and training courses.

New Directions

New Directions College offers English classes and training courses.

Reading College

Reading College offers English courses for work or study.

University of Reading

The University of Reading offers scholarships to eligible sanctuary seekers.


Join the library

Library cards are free. You can use the library for many things:

  • library computers are free to use with your card
  • library wifi is free to use with your card
  • library ebooks are free to use with your card
  • library books and children’s books are free to use with your card

Join the library

Find out ‘What’s On’ for you to do

You can find a range of information of events and things to do for leisure on What’s On Reading

You can also join the Reading Coffee Mornings which are usually held on Saturdays at Reading Central Library. The sessions provide an avenue to meet other residents and learn more about living in Reading.

Leisure centres

We have a variety of leisure centres in Reading. They offer services like sports, swimming and gyms. There are two discounted memberships offered to refugees and asylum seekers:

Living Reading

Living Reading is a website that provides a variety of information about living in Reading. It covers many things from shopping, travel to entertainment. It’s a useful website to research more about the leisure activities available.

Last updated on 19/03/2024