There were over 3,000 asylum applications from unaccompanied children in the UK, last year. Most of these are 15 or over, although there are a few younger children too.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre in conjunction with Citizens UK National Refugee Welcome Board has launched a campaign for local authorities to voluntarily engage with the relocation of unaccompanied asylum seeking children to reduce the pressure in Kent who look after the vast majority of this vulnerable group. Resources are increasingly stretched and it is likely that other LAs will be directed to take unaccompanied minors from areas of arrival, after the Immigration Bill goes through.
The campaign is calling for the development of strong networks to support best practice in this area.
Some City of Sanctuary groups may be interested in involving themselves with this campaign – especially in local authorities where there is capacity and good practice already in place. The campaign for voluntary engagement with this may depend on whether or not your local authority is struggling for schools places or has a good children’s services already in place. We would not recommend asking LAs with poor records to engage. Safeguarding issues are also important to bear in mind. The campaign provides an opportunity to develop links and to raise awareness with youth organisations with safeguarding already in place.
Further information can be found in this Relocation of UASC from Kent for local groups briefing from Coram, including on the background, the issues, actions that can be taken and the support available. We recommend that groups start by contacting any existing young refugee support projects or organisations such as After 18, who will have expertise and already be leaders in this field. In addition, groups are recommended to talk to their local Refugee Welcome Committee to work together, as they are likely to be involved.
Anyone who is interested in fostering an unaccompanied asylum seeking child / teenager can contact Homes for Good for more information and also their local government fostering scheme.