Children and Young People

Our Childrens Solicitors provide specialised legal representation to children throughout the asylum process.

Who We Help

Asylum Aid helps extremely vulnerable children in the UK to get legal status and access to holistic care, keeping them safe and secure as they rebuild their lives.

We support children who are Survivors of human cruelty and trafficking, and who experienced traumatic events. Many have been torn from or lost their families while undergoing dangerous journeys towards safety from countries including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria, and Iran.

We provide legal representation on a range of immigration and asylum matters, including children trying to reunite with their families who are outside of the UK.

Children remain at high risk of abduction by traffickers even after arriving in the UK: almost 1 in 3 children who had previously experienced trafficking went missing from care in 2020. Hundreds more children are disappearing as they are increasingly being placed in hotels by the Home Office, making them easier targets for traffickers.

How We Help

By obtaining legal status, children are better protected.

Expert legal representation

By working with children for over 30 years we have the knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality and specialised legal advice to children.

We gather as much information and evidence as possible at an early stage in the asylum claim so that we can minimise the length of time children will spend with their lives on hold, awaiting a decision on their legal status.

We attend children’s welfare and substantive interviews, the key stages of an asylum claim. We provide legal representation in age assessment challenges, in cases where children have been assessed to be adults by the Home Office. We advocate for trafficking referrals and provide legal representation in trafficking claims.

We know the huge impact that delays to decisions on children’s legal status has on their mental health, as they are left waiting in fear of what might happen to them next. We take steps to minimise delays and keep children updated throughout so they do not feel forgotten.

We work closely with social workers, foster carers, GP surgeries, schools, and other organisations supporting our clients. This ensures we have the information needed to best represent our clients. We keep these third parties updated so they know the care and support our clients need.

Child-focused approach

The children we help are extremely vulnerable. They often have no family members to support them through the challenging and distressing asylum process.

A child-friendly and child-focused approach takes time. We do not shy away from this – working at the pace children feel comfortable with is our priority.

We know that taking the time to build our clients’ trust and listen to their stories is instrumental to their asylum claims. Our clients do better and trust us more when we help them access holistic care and a network of support. This allows them to engage more fully in the asylum process.

Whenever children cannot get the support they need, we step in to help them find it. This includes working with organisations that provide welfare support or specialised care, such as mental and physical healthcare, education, and extra-curricular activities.

This essential work is not funded by legal aid. As a result, we are one of very few providers of legal representation for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who help our clients get welfare support.

Getting access to holistic care helps children develop the confidence to build a strong foundation for their future in the UK.

Improving the Sector 

We use our extensive legal expertise to change the way children are treated in the asylum and trafficking systems.

In addition to our legal work, we collaborate closely with the Helen Bamber Foundation on policy work focusing on a wide range of issues affecting children, especially age assessments and delays to trafficking and asylum decisions.

Our research has uncovered major issues in the asylum system for children. This includes finding that a considerable proportion of children are wrongly assessed to be adults by the Home Office.

We carry out our policy work in close partnership with other leading organisations in the child refugee and asylum sector, including Young Roots, Every Child Protected Against Trafficking UK, and the Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, which the Helen Bamber Foundation co-chairs.

Tony's Story

Tony and his family fled their country after they were persecuted because of their ethnicity. He became separated from them during a very difficult journey across Europe and arrived in the UK, unaccompanied, as a very young and traumatised teenager. Tony was looked after by the local authority and was obviously very vulnerable. Despite his age and vulnerability, Tony faced serious delays on his asylum claim.

Tony found this delay and the separation from all his loved ones incredibly distressing. He didn’t know what to do or who to trust, and a few times his extreme distress led to him fleeing from care, an especially dangerous situation for a vulnerable asylum-seeking child like Tony to be in, as he could easily have been abducted by traffickers. Tony was even hospitalised on multiple occasions.

Asylum Aid’s Children’s Solicitor, Elena, visited Tony in hospital and over time she built a relationship of trust and confidence with him. She kept in touch with his social worker and updated the Home Office on how Tony was doing. When the Home Office wanted to interview Tony about his asylum claim, his solicitor persuaded them that he was not well enough to be interviewed, sparing Tony the trauma of having to put his mental health on display and being forced to share all his experiences. A long interview would have hugely impacted his fragile mental health and potentially led to a bad legal outcome. Instead, Elena worked closely with Tony to gather detailed evidence, including medical evidence, and submitted his case in writing. When no decision was forthcoming, we sent a letter indicating we would take legal action to challenge the delay. Thankfully, our letter meant that the Home Office made Tony’s case a priority and reviewed his asylum claim soon after.

Tony was eventually granted refugee status in the UK while still a child. He was discharged from hospital into accommodation which provides additional care for children and young people with mental health issues. Once he was more settled, we encouraged him to reach out to an organisation that specialises in supporting young refugees. Tony can now make friends and finally feel in control of his life.