Young refugees and migrants

Life isn't easy for young refugees. After long and harrowing journeys, they arrive in the UK, not to a warm bed and loving parents but to endless questions from immigration. Tired and traumatised, they're grilled on how old they are and where they’ve come from.

Without knowing the language and how things work, young refugees have to fight hard for basics like food, safety and housing. Without support, it’s easy to lose hope. We fight alongside young refugees, giving them the tools they need to rebuild their lives.

Young refugee facts and figures

13 million

The number of child refugees in the world

9,000

unaccompanied children who have applied for asylum in the UK since 2016

1,500

The number of refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children we worked with in 2019

Working with young refugees

Every child should have the chance to be safe, happy and achieve their dreams, regardless of their or their parents' immigration status.

Our services across the UK give young refugees and migrants opportunities to recover, meet people and start enjoying life in a new country.

our work with young refugees

young man looking out at ferry port

Because of their journeys and the horrific things they’ve seen, these young people often need counselling and mental health support. Our specially trained practitioners work with them one to one, for as long as it takes for them to feel better.

I’m not alone

While they’re waiting to know if they can stay in the UK, we’re there for them through interviews and interrogations. Where necessary, we use interpreters to make sure they get their voices heard.

young man taking photo outside

I feel strong

Suhail arrived in the UK all alone four years ago. Like many young refugees, he had to fight hard to start a new life. He struggled with mental health but has now found his feet and takes beautiful photos all over London.

Staying safe

Arriving alone in a new country is scary. People will take advantage of children on their own. Without a trusted adult to look out for them, child refugees may be forced into slave labour, criminal groups or sex trafficking. We work with young people who have no one. We give them other options.

Unlike other services, HEARTS focuses on long-term, personalised help. Our lead worker speaks five languages, including Pushto, Urdu, Dari and Farsi, meaning young people can connect with them and build trust.

facts about HEARTS refugee service

122

young people were supported by HEARTS over three years

99%

said their lives had improved after working with us

helping refugees become independent

young woman smiling at camera

We also run group sessions where refugees and migrants can meet others who have been through the same experiences as them. They learn from one another and rebuild confidence. 

One group started their own campaign, and our ST4R group have delivered training, spoken at events and published booklets on the changes they hope to see for young migrants.

We also run female-only groups. These sessions provide safe spaces for refugee girls and young women to have fun and pursue their interests - anything from fitness and well-being to education and language. 

helping refugees understand new communities

Life skills

HOPE in Greater Manchester empowers unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to develop life skills. This could be one-to-one support with CVs, interview practice, housing, finding a solicitor or simply understanding how to buy groceries. 

Connecting Opportunities in West Yorkshire assists young refugees into jobs and education. Their online sessions also support young people living in isolated areas to connect, develop social skills and build confidence. 

Our mentoring or befriending schemes help young refugees feel part of new communities. If they like playing football, we find a game. If they like dancing, we find a class. They’re also great for learning English. 

young man putting football top on laughing

Legal battles

For unaccompanied refugee children legal rights can be bewildering. Without a trusted adult to explain, complex immigration and legal systems are impossible to understand. Many will spend months or even years waiting to be told if they can stay. Our services, like By Your Side in London, guide them through these systems. We’re with them every step of the way.

We also work with families who've lived here for many years and whose children were born here, but who still have problems with their status. Our Migrant Advice Project in Newcastle helps migrant families and young people to secure their status and continue living in the UK.

She never let me down, ever