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Social Support for Asylum seekers

An asylum seeker is a person who has submitted an application to the authorities of the receiving country, seeking to be recognized as a refugee, with all the rights this status entails. Once a request for asylum has been granted by the authorities, the applicant will receive official recognition of his/her refugee status. Asylum seekers in Iceland live in accommodations provided by the municipalities, Reykjanesbær, Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður or by the Directorate of Immigration.

The Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær branch of the Icelandic Red Cross runs a social support program for asylum seekers in Iceland. The aim of the project is to reduce social isolation and offer a possibility to be active with focus on positive and useful experience. The support is twofold; visitation service and social activities. Volunteers offer visitations to asylum seekers at their place of residence. Social activities include short trips, sports, walks in and around the capital area, museum visits and courses along with regular get together (Social House) in the capital area and in Reykjanesbær (Keflavík).

Red Cross volunteers undertake a range of activities to help asylum seekers deal with the challenges they face and bring some joy into their daily lives. To be enlisted into the Social Support Program for Asylum Seekers the volunteer must speak English and should be prepared to commit to at least twice a month for 9 months. All volunteers are required to attend training courses on working with asylum seekers, psychosocial support and first aid courses, as well as an short online course about the Red Cross.

Do you want to volunteer with asylum seekers? 
If you are interested in joining this project, please register here and a member of staff from our volunteer center will get in touch with you.

Open house - Assistant for immigrants

Open House is held twice a week and is intended for all immigrants. The purpose is to provide individuals support and the opportunity to build networks and increase their participation in Icelandic society.

Time: Tuesdays at 16.00-18.00 and Thursdays at 14.00-16.00
Place: The Red Cross, Efstaleiti 9, 103 Reykjavík

At the Open House volunteers assist with various issues such as:

  • Making a CV
  • Job search
  • Apartment search
  • Finding household equipment
  • Computers are on site exclusively for users and volunteers of the Open House
Coffee / tea and light snacks available.

For further information contact reykjavik@redcross.is

Konukot - Shelter for homeless women

Konukot is a night shelter for homeless women. Konukot is intended for those women who have no place to rest their heads and need a place to sleep. Most such women are suffering drug addictions and/or psychological problems. Light refreshments are offered in the evening, along with a breakfast. Women can wash and take a bath and those who need to can get some clothes provided by the Clothes Grading of the Icelandic Red Cross. Any use of alcohol and other intoxicating substances is forbidden in the house.

Konukot is located at Eskihlíð 4, 105 Reykjavík. More information and opening time on the web. If you want more information please call Konukot (telephone: 511 5150). 

Bonding Icebreaker

Bonding Icebreaker is a project where Icelandic families invite immigrants to their home for a dinner and chat.

The project provides Icelanders with an opportunity to get to know foreigners which are now moving in large numbers to the country. At the same time it gives immigrants a chance to meet locals in a homey environment. Both hosts and guests get an opportunity to learn about different cultures and languages. The Icelandic Red Cross pairs together applications so that both parties have something in common and quite often good friendships are made after this one evening.

Just one evening, a simple and a fun way to get to know Icelanders and make some new friends.

Everyone can participate in this project, there‘s no need to be a volunteer or a member at the Icelandic Red Cross. Sign up by contacting kopavogur@redcross.is

Homework assistance

The purpose of this project is to help immigrant children with their homework and master Icelandic language skills. Most of the volunteers in this programme are retired teachers and Red Cross Youth volunteers.

Does your child need homework assistance?
Homework assistance is provided once a week at the Reykjavik branch of the Red Cross located in Efstaleiti 9. (see http://www.heilahristingur.is/). The assistance is offered for an hour and a half. For more information please contact the Reykjavik branch of the Red Cross (telephone: 570 4000).

Homework assistance is also provided at the Héraðs- og Borgarfjörður branch of the Red Cross located in Egilstaðir. For more information please contact the Héraðs - og Borgarfjörður branch (telephones: 863 3616 or 863 3608).

Child and youth programmes

The main goal of the child and youth programmes is to promote the principles of the Red Cross and introduce Red Cross activities. The youth programmes provide young people with the opportunity to learn about the Red Cross Movement and offers them to participate in diverse projects. Moreover, through these programmes the organization has the opportunity to observe the circumstances, attitudes and mind-set of the youth.

Do you want to participate or learn more about the Red Cross youth programmes?
If you are interested please contact one of the following branches:
Reykjavík: telephone: 570 4000, e-mail:  reykjavik@redcross.is
Hafnarfjörður: telephone: 565 1222, e-mail:  hafnarfjordur@redcross.is
Akranes: telephone: 431 2270, e-mail:  akranes@redcross.is

If you live in another region of the country please contact the Head office of the Red Cross (telephone: 570 4000, e-mail: central@redcross.is

International parents – the greater Reykjavík area

The Red Cross welcomes all parents with children at the age of 0-6 years who want to meet others with young children. Presentations concerning children and society will regularly be held. Toys for the children and refreshments are provided.
Participation is free and no knowledge of Icelandic is required.

Time: Thursdays at 10.00-12.00
Place: The Red Cross House in Kópavogur, Hamraborg 11, 2nd floor, 200 Kópavogur

For further information contact kopavogur@redcross.is

Open house for Parents in Borgarnes

Information sessions are organized for parents about different topics concerning their children such as sessions on the Icelandic school system, sports and recreational activities in the area.  All immigrant parents are welcome. These sessions are a great opportunity for parents to meet and share their ideas and concerns.

Do you want to meet other parents and receive important information in Borgarnes?
Please contact  borgarfjodur@redcross.is, telephone: 857 7100. The Red Cross branch in Borgarnes is located in Borgarbraut 4.

Day Shelters for people with mental health problems

The Red Cross assists in the running of several day shelters for people with mental health problems. These shelters provide a place to come to, have a hot meal, read, play cards, take part in hobbies or a place from which to go for walks.

The aim is to reduce isolation and improve the quality of life.

Where are the shelters located?

Vin, located in Hverfisgata 47, Reykjavík, telephone: 561-2612, e-mail:  vin@redcross.is
Laut, located in Brekkugata 34, Akureyri, telephone: 462-6632, e-mail:  laut@simnet.is 
Lækur, located in Hörðuvöllum 1, Hafnarfjörður, telephone: 566 8600, e-mail:  laekur@redcross.is 
Vesturafl, located in Ísafjörður, telephone: 456 4406, website:  http://vesturafl.bloggar.is

Do you need further information?  
Please contact the Head office of the Icelandic Red Cross at telephone 570 4000.

Home Visiting Programme

Several hundred people throughout the country receive regular visits from Red Cross volunteers. Volunteers, both male and female of all ages, give a few hours every week to visit lonely people and bring them happiness.

Volunteers answer all calls for visits. They visit old and young people, those who are sick, children with serious illnesses, prisoners, people with mental health problems and refugees.
The volunteers attend a preliminary course run by the Red Cross before they begin their visits.

Many visits take place in the homes of elderly people. The visits take place regularly, usually once a week and last for an hour. The visits can also be in the form of car trips and walks. It depends on the wishes of the host.

The Red Cross also offers visits with dogs as it has been shown that animals are very suitable companions in many cases.

Do you wish to have visiting friend?  
Please contact local branch. More information at the Head office of the Icelandic Red Cross (telephone: 570 4000, e-mail: central@redcross.is).

Red Cross Helpline 1717

  • Always open - 24/7
  • Toll-free from any number
  • Confidentiality – anonymity – neutrality
  • Available for those in need of assistance

No issue is too big or small for the helpline. Annually we receive about 15 thousands contacts that are as diverse as they are many. Our volunteers are professionally trained, well-experienced and of all ages. Examples of issues that we receive are:

Loneliness – Depression – Anxiety – Suicidal thoughts – Eating disorders – Mental disorders – Grief and trauma – Finance – Educational difficulties – Relationship  and communications difficulties – Housing problems – Unemployment -  Stigma – Child protection – Self-harm – Bullying – Health issues – Addiction – Sexual abuse – Mental abuse – Physical abuse – Sex – Contraception – STDs 

This list is however not exhaustive and the helpline can be contacted for all kinds of reasons: for psychological support, counseling, active listening and information on resources available in Icelandic society.

Online chat
The helpline is also available via our online chat. When connecting to the chat, we ask for a name and an e-mail address. Keep in mind that you do not have to provide your right name or e-mail. Complete confidentiality and anonymity is promised. If you do not receive an answer soon after you have been connected, it´s because our chat is busy at the moment and we ask you to wait for the next available counselor. If you, for some reasons, cannot wait for the next available counselor, you can always leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible within the next 24-hours.

About Red Cross Helpline 1717
About 95 volunteers answer the Red Cross Helpline 1717. Each volunteer receives extensive training and courses before becoming a volunteer. Volunteers are then offered guidance and seminars on issues relating to the helpline. The Helpline´s main role is to provide active listening and advice on community resources for people of all ages in need. The helpline also provides psychological support and counseling for those who feel betrayed online. Our role is therefore very broad in the sense of being available for those who seek confidential and neutral assistance. There is thus no contact irrelevant to the Helpline.

The Red Cross Helpline 1717 collaborates with various institutions and organizations, both local and international, including The Directorate of Health, The 112 National Emergency Number, The Icelandic Mental Health Alliance, Save the Children and Home and School.

The Helpline is a partner of the Child Helpline International (CHI) and the Safer Internet Program, Insafe and INHOPE to deliver a safer and better internet. The helpline also plays the role of a professional counselor in the project “Volunteerism? – I´m Game!” which is operated by the Regional Voluntary Center in Katowice.  The aim of the project is to develop and improve volunteerism in Polish schools.
The helpline plays a big role in cases of disaster such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions when evacuation is needed. The role of the Helpline is mainly to provide information to victims and relatives in such disasters.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Red Cross Helpline 1717, you can apply here and a Red Cross representative will contact you as soon as possible.

Second-hand clothing

Red Cross branches throughout the country collect second-hand clothing, which is sold in Red Cross stores or made available free of charge to those in need. In the capital area, the Icelandic Red Cross collects second-hand clothing in collaboration with “Sorpa” recycling centres. In all of “Sorpa's” recycling centres (see www.sorpa.is for information) you can find a container from the Clothing Collection Service of the Icelandic Red Cross. The containers are white and are clearly marked.

The Red Cross Clothers Distribution 

Those who are interested in clothing assistance can apply for clothing cards at the IRC office in Efstaleiti 9.  Opening hours for clothing cards are on Tuesdays at. 13:00  to 16:00.  

Open Red Cross appointment for Asylum Seekers are on Thursdays at 12:30-15:00 at IRC office in Efstaleiti 9.

Second-hand clothing items are sold at Red Cross stores located in Laugavegur 12, Laugavegur 116 and Mjóddin in Reykjavík, Strandgata 24 in Hafnarfjörður, Borgarbraut 4 Borgarnes,Viðjulundur 2 Akureyri, N1 Héðinsbraut 2 Húsavík, Fjarðarbraut 48 Stöðvarfjörður, Eskifjörður, Egilsstaðir, and Hornafjörður. If you are located in other places please contact your local branch for information. More information and opening time on the  web (in Icelandic)

For further information please contact the Clothing Service Centre at Skútuvogi 1 Reykjavík, (telephone: 587 0900, e-mail: fataflokkun@redcross.is) or the Head office of the Icelandic Red Cross (telephone: 570 4000, e-mail:  central@redcross.is).

First Aid Courses

Thousands of Icelanders learn first aid each year at courses held by the Red Cross. The Society supervises the teaching of first aid in the country. It trains instructors, supplies the material to be taught and makes sure the subject is taught by the most up to date methods.

The society also provides education in psychological support and provides psychological support after major accidents and catastrophes.

Each year the Icelandic Red Cross nominates the First Aider of the Year with the aim of encouraging people to learn first aid.

Knowledge of the basics in first aid can save a life in danger.

Are you interested in taking a first aid course?  
Please contact Linda Björk Markúsdóttir (telephone: 570 4031, e-mail:  lindabjork@redcross.is).