Around 3,000 children arrive in the UK alone every year seeking asylum.

A young asylum seeker

Our briefing Going it alone: Children in the asylum process  (2007) describes the asylum process from the perspective of these children and is based on extensive consultation with young people. It highlights the barriers and unequal treatment they face as they struggle to navigate complex and adult systems to get the support they need. Without one consistent carer that can oversee, coordinate and guide them through such processes, these vulnerable children can fall through the gaps.

Our Not just a temporary fix: Durable solutions for separated migrant children (2015) report highlights that the long-term needs of these children are often forgotten about or avoided altogether. It calls for these children to have a ‘durable solution’ – a lasting outcome which addresses all of their needs, considers their own view and leads to the child successfully transitioning into adulthood,  whether they remain in England or return to their country of origin.

We are also calling for a system of legal guardianship for these children. This would mean an independent guardian with legal authority would be there to support them to overcome language and cultural barriers and to know and access their rights by holding agencies to account.  Our joint report, Protecting children through guardianship: the costs and benefits of guardians for separated children (2014) with UNICEF UK finds that such a system could save money in the long term. You can also download the full report

No legal aid

In April 2013, the Government implemented changes to the legal aid system which means that separated or unaccompanied migrant children – those without a parent or guardian in this country – are no longer able to get free support with their immigration cases. Our ‘Cut off from justice’ (2015) report looks at the damaging impact this has had on separated and unaccompanied migrant children.

We are launching a legal challenge of the government’s refusal to bring immigration applications for separated and unaccompanied children within scope of legal aid. We are currently looking for case studies and supporting documents from legal professionals and frontline practitioners in support of our legal challenge. For more information on this please e-mail the policy team on