Unaccompanied asylum seeking children – resources for practitioners
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people (UASC), also known as separated children or unaccompanied minors, are children who are outside their country of origin and are without the care and protection of their parents or legal guardian. Their status, age and circumstances may well be uncertain.
Sometimes they may have witnessed or experienced traumatic events and they may be suffering the most extreme forms of loss. There are many reasons why children and young people may leave their home country. Some of the reasons include:
- fear of persecution, due to their religion, nationality, ethnicity, political opinion or social group
- parents having been killed, imprisoned or disappeared
- in danger of being forced to fight or become a child soldier
- war, conflict
- poverty, deprivation
- sent abroad by parents/family.
The Children and Families Refugee and Asylum Seeker Services (CAFRASS) provide a number of services to unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
In Manchester CAFRASS can be contacted via the City Council website at www.manchester.gov.uk
Children in the asylum process
Guidance from UK Visas and Immigration about how it makes asylum decisions involving children can be found on the gov.uk website at www.gov.uk/children-asylum-instructions
The Home Office provides support through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) – information can be found on the gov.uk website at www.gov.uk/asylum-support
Locally more information can be found on the Manchester City Council website at www.manchester.gov.uk/asylum_and_immigration.
The Council has a statutory responsibility to offer assistance to asylum seekers and administers the various benefits asylum seekers are entitled to and also makes provision for temporary accommodation. Services which might be available are assistance with finding accommodation and support to integrate into British Society.
North West Asylum Casework Directory
UK Visas and Immigration Safeguarding Hub is nationwide with regional teams. The North West Asylum Casework Directory based in Liverpool:
- tele: 0151 213 2682 or email at NWACDSafeguarding@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
The team presently deals with “LIVE” asylum cases – these are cases within the region that are either undecided or still in the court process. Once an applicant reaches ARE (Appeals Rights Exhausted) they no longer have any involvement.
Their inbox is used by internal staff and outside agencies and stakeholders for issues such as:
- notification of asylum applicants who have attempted suicide or self-harm
- notification of children of applicants who have been taken into care; the team then act as a point of contact for social services and other agencies involved with the children
- notification of concerns regarding applicants’ mental and physical health that may deem them to be considered vulnerable
- a point of contact for ‘live’ asylum cases where multiple agencies are involved for a number of concerns around wellbeing and safeguarding
- completion of ‘missing person vulnerable’ reports to the police when an applicant goes missing and is deemed vulnerable; the team then act as point of contact within that process
- information requests from outside agencies when there is safeguarding concerns or they are deemed particularly vulnerable and agencies require information to assist them.
Policies and resources
Africans Unite against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) was established as a platform for advocating for the rights and welfare of African children.
Contact AFRUCA on tele: 0844 660 8607 or visit the website at www.afruca.org.uk
Coram Legal Centre
Coram outlines the legal process for claiming asylum as a child in the UK, local authority support for asylum-seeking children, UASC leave and joining family through the Dublin Regulation. Visit their website at www.childrenslegalcentre.com/resources/asylum-support
The children’s section of the Refugee Council website offers advice and support to unaccompanied children seeking asylum in England – visit the website at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/childrens_services
The Fostering Network
The Fostering Network offers advice on looking after unaccompanied asylum seeking children living with approved foster carers when there is no suitable family member or guardian to care for them. Visit their website at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/looking-after-unaccompanied-asylum-seeker-children
The RCPCH has published information aimed at supporting paediatricians in the assessment and management of children and young people of refugee background, with links to key external information and resources. This is available on their website at www.rcpch.ac.uk/refugee-unaccompanied-asylum-seeking-children-young-people