Ukrainian wellbeing and support guide

We are working with a variety of organisations to give advice and support to Ukrainians and their sponsors arriving in Reading. You will find information that will help you and your family to settle into life in the UK.

A dedicated team in the council is assigned to coordinate with sponsors and guests on enquiries related to Homes for Ukraine. You may contact them at

Top 5 things to do on arrival

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. Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest are offering support to Ukrainian guests. But you should be able to apply to any bank, in person or online.
  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.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme is administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Sponsors are paid for up to 24 months of sponsorship. The minimum suggested sponsorship length is six months. Guests have Leave to remain in the UK for 3 years from arrival. offers support available for sponsors hosting people from Ukraine.

Homes for Ukraine toolkit.

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:

Online banks are available too:

  • Starling
  • Monzo
  • Welfare and benefits

    Claim Universal Credit

    The UK government of the UK 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.

      Free UK immigration advice for Ukrainians

      This group consists of volunteer legal professionals with immigration/asylum expertise. They provide free UK advice on immigration and asylum to people fleeing Ukraine.

      Free UK immigration advice for Ukrainians


      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

      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

    Firstly, you should register with a doctor’s surgery. Information on this is given in the Top 5 things to do on arrival section. You can also find information on getting a COVID vaccination there.

    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.

    Telphone: 020 3962 8201


    Barnardo’s Ukraine Helpline

    Contact Barnardo’s Ukrainian Support Helpline at 0800 148 8586, interpreters are available.

    The Barnardo’s Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm. They provide qualified psychotherapists on the phone or online. They can advise on a range of issues and give practical support.


    Legal advice

    Advice Ukraine

    Advice Ukraine are volunteer legal professionals with immigration and asylum expertise. They give free legal advice on UK immigration, visas and asylum from qualified and regulated lawyers.

    The Romanian and Eastern European Hub

    The Romanian and Eastern European Hub offers support to people from these communities in the UK. Their staff and volunteers offer free support to those needing help due to language, digital, and cultural barriers.

    UK visa support

    UK government guidance on visa support for Ukrainian nationals.

    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.

    Reading School – Future Stories

    Reading School provides a range of social and educational activities for Ukrainian children. Together with City of Sanctuary, they also run a homework club for young people of secondary school age during term time.

    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

    British Red Cross Society

    British Red Cross Society offers information and support to people from Ukraine who are in the UK. This includes family migration visa and the Ukrainian family scheme.
    Telephone: 0808 196 3651 (10am to 6pm daily)
    If you need an interpreter say “can I speak to an interpreter?”

    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 Ukrainian families 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 Ukrainian Community Centre

    The Reading Ukrainian Community Centre (RUCC) is a volunteer run organisation. It is run under the auspices of The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

    They have a coffee morning on Wednesdays for new arrivals to meet and get to know each other.

    They organise regular social and cultural events for the Ukrainian community in the greater Reading area. They welcome all Ukrainians and also host families

    They do not give advice, but will signpost to other organisations.

    Address: 21 Sidmouth Street, Reading RG1 4QZ

    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

    Guests on the Ukraine Family or Sponsorship visa schemes can be referred by their host using the online referral form

    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 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

    Reading Buses

    The council provides one-off 90-day bus passes through Reading Buses which covers SimplyReading zone. Once your guest has arrived, please contact to request for a bus pass.

    JobCentre travel discounts

    Contact .The Reading Jobcentre for information on reduced price travel options.

    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 to Ukrainian guests.

    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

    Ukrainian ebooks

    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.

    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 06/07/2023