9 Apr 2014

The Children’s Society's response to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s report on unaccompanied children refused asylum 

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'This report shines a much needed spotlight on the fact that the government is failing to protect young asylum seekers, who fled their countries alone as children, from abuse and exploitation.

'By denying them support after they turn 18, the government is forcing many of these young people into destitution. Many are being left homeless, without money, food or access to medical care. This is unacceptable and puts their health and well-being at risk.

'It is vital the government lives up to its responsibility and protects these young people. It needs to protect all young people in its care and must not discriminate based on their immigration status. It needs to adopt the Children’s Commissioner’s call for them to get the same support as other care leavers until it is safe for them to return home or they are granted the right to remain in this country.

'Forcing young people into destitution violates their rights and their welfare, and is a destructive and ineffective immigration policy. The government must make sure that these care leavers get the support they need in law.'

Ends

Media enquiries

For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07775 812 357 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  • What’s Going to Happen Tomorrow: Unaccompanied children refused asylum, by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner
  • For further information on young asylum seekers facing destitution see The Children’s Society’s I Don’t Feel Human: Experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants. Our recommendations in this report included amending legislation in Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to protect children, young people and families.
  • Local authorities support care leavers at least until age 21 or longer if they are in education or training. The leaving care provisions are set out in The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers.
  • The Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people also made recommendations to amend Schedule 3 (para 213).
  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. Someone who acts on their behalf and can help guide them through the extremely complex system. These children deserve to be kept safe so they can recover from the trauma they have suffered and rebuild their lives.