Our journey for a legal guardian – making change takes time 

Many asylum-seeking children and young people arrive in the UK without any family or guardians. After experiencing unimaginable ordeals to get here, their journey is far from over once they arrive. 

Alone and scared in a new country, they face language and cultural barriers, terrifying interviews and age assessments.

We believe all unaccompanied and separated children arriving in the UK alone deserve to have a guardian who will speak up for them, ensure their needs are considered by decision makers and help them access the support they need.

Whilst this exists in Scotland, there is no independent guardianship scheme in England and Wales. 

As the Youth-Led Commission on Separated Children, we have explored the positive impact the scheme has had on young people, guardians and solicitors in Scotland, and now we are campaigning for legal guardians to be provided to all unaccompanied and separated children and young people.

Here's a look at our campaign so far

2018: Recommendation

The recommendation for independent guardians was included in Distress Signals, a piece of research into mental health support for unaccompanied young people. Young people took part in the initial research, shared their experiences and travelled to Leeds and Northampton to co-chair an NHS conference around support for UASC mental health.

November 2018: Distress Signals Report launch

The Distress Signals Report was launched in parliament with Lord Dubs supporting the launch event.

January 2019: Youth groups support guardianship

14-25 year olds from different youth groups across the country wrote letters and produced artwork in support of guardianship to submit to the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

June 2019: Distress Signals campaign workshop

We had a workshop where we agreed we should visit Scotland to find out more about the scheme they have there.

January 2020: Glasgow trip

We travelled to Glasgow and documented the trip to research the guardianship scheme. We were able to speak to young people, the guardians that support them and a solicitor who made things much clearer for us. It is about all professionals working together to support the young person, the guardian was the link to ensure all this happened seamlessly for the young person.

14 March 2020: Covid-19 lockdown

Quarterly meeting where we reviewed our video and planned our speech for the launch at Over the Rainbow. This was our last face-to-face meeting before lockdown of the country.

31 March 2020: lockdown meeting

This was our first virtual lockdown meeting. We shared stories of what we were concerned about and came up with tips of how we can support each other and keep safe. "It’s all overwhelming, take deep breaths, enjoy the things that you can do."

April 2020: Petition and website

At this meeting, we discussed the petition for our campaign. We agreed to use Musa’s speech as inspiration. We put together a list of things we wanted online for people to read about the campaign. We want to make clear that the campaign is for unaccompanied and separated children seeking sanctuary in England and Wales and we will share a biography of the group and why we feel guardians should be provided.

May 2020: Ramadan and Refugee Week

We talked about Ramadan and what it means for young people. Ramadan is about self-discipline, putting yourself in another person’s situation and a time for reflection. We talked about Refugee Week and the theme of 'imagine'. We have been lucky to be able to guest write a blog to talk about our campaign, and we agreed to meet with the Home office and Department for Education officials to discuss our documentary.

June 2020: online launch

We are launching our hub, documentary and petition. We’re excited to finally show everyone the work we’ve been doing and we hope we can get support.