Our work with unaccompanied child refugees

How we help unaccompanied child refugees

Millions of people all across the globe are being forced to flee their homes because of war and persecution. The disruption caused by conflict and oppression is tearing families apart – with parents being left with no choice but to leave behind their children to find safety, or having to smuggle their children out of the country in order to ensure their survival.

More than half of all refugees are children, and more than 20,000 unaccompanied refugee children arrived in Europe last year. In 2017, unaccompanied children made up 10 percent of all asylum seekers arriving in this country. These children have been through terrible experiences, and seen things no child should have to see. 

When unaccompanied child refugees arrive here they have no one. Most don’t speak our language, don’t know anything about the place where they’re living, and don’t know where to go for help. This is not only very difficult for them, but also makes them vulnerable to people who might want to exploit them. Unaccompanied refugee minors are at high risk of being forced into slave labour and being sexually abused.

That’s why we run services all across the country that support young refugees and keep them safe. Working with them one-to-one and in groups, we help them with all aspects of their lives, so that they can settle in their new home and look forward to brighter futures.

Because of the trauma child refugees have faced, they often need counselling and mental health support. Our specially trained counsellors will work with unaccompanied child refugees to help them come to terms with the difficult experiences they’ve had, supporting them as they recover and move forward with their lives. 

When young refugees arrive here they find it hard to adjust, so we give them access to mentoring and befriending schemes that help them meet other young people and make friends. These schemes also include giving unaccompanied refugee children support to learn English, and give them mentors who they can turn to for extra support.

For many unaccompanied child refugees, undertaking many of the simple everyday acts that we take for granted can be a daunting challenge. Buying food from a shop, withdrawing money from the bank, or getting registered with a local school or doctor’s surgery can be a difficult and awkward acts. That’s why our services help young refugees access education and life skills support, so that they can learn how to do things in their new homeland, and access the educational opportunities that every child deserves. 

Our orientation and prevention programmes aim to reduce the risks of exploitation and risk taking behaviour for young refugees. Unaccompanied refugee children often, quite understandably, lack awareness of their rights and entitlements and have no parental guidance. The aim of our programmes is to ensure that following arrival in their new city, young people are empowered to become full members of their new community.

To help with their integration, we offer young refugees social and creative activities that enable them to connect with others and build social networks. We give young people access to art materials and help them access creative outlets such as photography and filmmaking so that they can express themselves, what they’ve been through, and what life is like for them.

Find out more about how we help young refugees when they arrive in this country.