Call on the Government to reinstate legal aid for all migrant children on their own in the UK

Teenage male refugee looking lost in park

We estimate that around 15,000 vulnerable migrant children who are alone in the UK aren’t getting the legal help they desperately need, putting them at serious risk of exploitation.

Expecting extremely vulnerable children and young people to find their way through complex legal problems on their own is unreasonable and cruel.

We are calling on the Government to bring back crucial help with legal costs for all migrant children who are on their own. You can help. Sign this petition and call on the Government to reinstate legal aid for all unaccompanied and separated migrant children.

What is legal aid?

Legal aid helps vulnerable children and young people pay for a lawyer, so they can get advice, mediation or representation in court for legal problems.

Who are these children?

They are migrant children who have been separated from their parents and are alone in the UK. They may be living with a member of their extended family, with family friends, or are in local authority care because there is no one else to care for them.

Some of these children have endured horrific experiences like being trafficked into the UK. Others were born here but do not have citizenship. Some may be claiming asylum but because of their very complex situations they may also need legal aid for specific aspects of their case.

The Government’s failing ‘safety net’

The safety net designed to help the most vulnerable is not working, with just 15 children’s applications for emergency funding – out of thousands expected - in one year.

Even if a young person does get legal help, they still have to find a way to pay eye-watering Home Office admin fees up to £2300. These fees are skyrocketing, with increases of up to 119% in the last four years.

These endless barriers create impossible situations for children who have nowhere else to turn.

Our new report, written in partnership with Dr Helen Connolly, University of Bedfordshire, highlights the needs of unaccompanied and separated children in a system that often renders them invisible, harming both their childhood and their future.

read the report