The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Maternity Care

Caring for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Thelma, Mother in Exile

This short film describes a true story of a woman's experience of applying for asylum in the UK


An ASYLUM SEEKER is a person who has left their country of origin, who has formally applied for asylum in UK and is awaiting a decision.

REFUGEE status is granted to a person who has been recognised as having a "well founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" (UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951)

HUMANITARIAN PROTECTION is granted to a person who does not meet the criteria for Refugee status under the 1951 UN Convention, but would face a real risk of death, torture or other inhumane or degrading treatment if returned to their country of origin.

A person who claims asylum in UK and whose claim and subsequent appeals have been refused is referred to as a DENIED or FAILED ASYLUM SEEKER.

An ECONOMIC MIGRANT is a person who has moved to another country to work.

The Asylum Process

Applications for asylum in UK are made to the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). The application is made at the port or airport at which the applicant arrives. If an application is made after entering the UK, the applicant does this at the UKBA offices in Croydon.

Following a screening interview, the applicant may be dispersed to an Initial Accommodation (IA) Centre, on a no choice basis. At the IA Centre food and board is provided. A further interview takes place with UKBA officials and a Legal Representative. Dispersal to housed accommodation, with some financial support, is offered. This is often referred to as Section 95 support. The housing provider is expected to help the applicant register with primary health services locally.

Dispersal during pregnancy is discouraged by midwives. The UKBA has recently adopted a Protected Period of 36 weeks pregnant to 4 weeks postnatal, when a woman should not be dispersed.

The asylum decision can take a few months. If it is a positive decision, the applicant is granted one of the following:

Refugee Status - with a designated period of leave to remain in UK - after which settlement can be applied for.
Humanitarian Protection - with a designated period of leave to remain in UK - after which settlement can be applied for.
Discretionary Leave to Remain - of a designanted time period - after which settlement can be applied for.
Negative decision - which can be appealed within 14 days. During an appeal process Section 95 support continues. only one appeal can be lodged. If it is denied, Section 95 support ceases and removal from the UK can follow.

Asylum Seekers

During the asylum process, applicants are not allowed to undertake paid work in the UK.

They are entitled to Primary, Secondary and Maternity care. They can apply for an HC2 certificate to enable them to free prescriptions and NHS dental care.

Pregnant women need a Mat B1 and can receive additional payments during pregnancy of £3 week. They can also apply for a Maternity Grant from UKBA of £300 when they reach 32 weeks pregnant.

Accommodation Provision

Accommodation in Yorkshire and the Humber is provided by G4S

Housing is furnished, and a cot and sterilisation equipment is provided for infants.

G4S Call centre 01909 533500
Denied or Failed Asylum Seekers

Not all denied asylum seekers are removed from the UK. Some remain and become destitute.

For women who have appled for asylum and been denied and then become pregnant, there is a Section 4 support that they can apply for later in the pregnancy.

Section 4 support provides accommodation and an Azure card, which can be spent in a variety of shops. No cash is available to woman on Section 4 support. Women on Section 4 support can apply for additional pregnancy payments of £3 week and a maternity grant of £250. These are added to the Azure card.

Women receiving Section 4 support are entitled to Primary, Secondary and Maternity care. They can also apply for an HC2 certificate entitling them to free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.

Refugee Status

Once Refugee Status is granted, Section 95 support continues for 28 days. During this time, the individual can apply for a National Insurance Number, work, benefits and housing.

Refugees are entitled to Primary, Secondary and Maternity care. Their maternity benefits are applied for through Job Centre Plus.
Local Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Positive Action for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (PAFRAS) is a voluntary organisation providing support, a meeting place, food parcels and much more. They particularly support those whose asylum has been denied.

Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network (LASSN) is a voluntary organisation providing support, befrienders and English at home for asylum seekers and refugees. External Link

Solace provides counselling and therapies to those who have survived persecution in exile.

Useful Websites

City of Sanctuary is a movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. The Maternity Stream of the movement particularly focusses on the plights and strengths of women during pregnancy and motherhood, and links professionals working to embed the concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within maternity services and organisations with interested individuals and other groups. The Stream can also enable the sharing of best practice, resources and ideas:

Maternity Action is a national charity promoting maternal equality issues. The charity has a particular interest in vulnerable migrant women and provides information on the rights of women with different forms of immigration status. They provide training for Midwives and have resources including a reading list for Midwives at:

The UK Border Agency processes asylum applications and all the information about the process is available at:

Migrant Help is a UK charity that has over 50 years experience of delivering support and advice services to migrants in the UK. We provide individuals with the resources and support they need to find safety, access appropriate services and information and develop greater independence. Migrant Help provides a wide range of services across the UK working with new asylum claimants and refugees; EU nationals; foreign national prisoners; victims of modern day slavery (human trafficking) at:

The Refugee Council is a voluntary organisation that provides support for asylum seekers and refugees as well as assisting communities and integration. This website has information in many different languages at:

Migration Yorkshire is a local authority-led regional migration partnership, hosted by Leeds City Council. They work with agencies across the statutory, voluntary, community and private sectors to help support the delivery of high quality services to migrants in a way that benefits everyone living in local communities.