We come here to be safe, but there are so many problems when we arrive....

young men preparing questions

Why are guardians so important for young people?

From my experience, it is important for a child to understand their rights, if they arrive in the UK alone. We know that a significant number of separated young people fleeing war, persecution and other struggles take a range of difficult journeys to arrive in the UK.  

Unfortunately, following their arrival in the UK, unaccompanied young people continue to face significant barriers. This is because the government policies that have created the hostile environment have made it more difficult for young people to access NHS services and education.

Children need someone to explain the immigration process and support them through it, as it can take so long. For many of us, it can be years and years of waiting. 

Even when they're speaking our language, we don't understand

Many of us don’t understand what our solicitors are saying, even when there is an interpreter speaking our language. We don't understand the process and how it works as it sounds so complicated.

We need someone to come with us to solicitors' appointments, home office interviews and appeal hearings. We don't have family with us. Our social workers have many other young people and they can't come to everything with us. Sometimes social workers tell us that we needed to do it by ourself and to learn to become independent.  

We have to talk about difficult things again and again

Many young people end up having several different solicitors and moving every few months to a new solicitor. 

We have had to tell our story again and again to each solicitor. We have to talk about some of the most difficult things in our life again and again and you always worry that people don’t believe you. When you change solicitor, often they don’t have your full files and you have to do your statement again and again and explain what applications you have done to the Home Office.

Having a guardian would help as they could support us with speaking to our solicitors, explain our situation, explain what applications we have done. A guardian is someone that works with local authorities, legal services and other organisations to help unaccompanied children and young people access assistance they need and to make informed decisions about their future.

It really impacts our mental health and well-being

Going through the asylum process without support really impacts on your mental health and well-being. We need guardians to support us with our mental health by helping us understand what is going on and supporting us when we have questions. We need someone by our side along the asylum journey.

We need guardians to be there for us, to help us feel safe 

A guardian can also introduce a young person to social opportunities and begin to integrate them into the community, such as enrolling them to college and other youth groups, showing them the city and teaching them how to do shopping and buy clothes and listen to them and complete their basic needs.

What is the campaign for guardianship?

We are working together on a campaign to give all separated children an independent guardian. At the moment, this only exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not in England or Wales.

I want to be part of this to help other people. For me I am not at that age to be helped by a guardian, if my work can help young people make their life easier, that will be good.