Big Lottery funds new project for asylum-seeking children

Big Lottery funds groundbreaking new project for asylum-seeking children

Scottish Refugee Council has been awarded crucial funding from the Big Lottery Fund to help vulnerable unaccompanied children through the asylum process.

We have been awarded £507,252 towards the establishment of a pilot Guardianship Project for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Scotland. The project will be the first of its kind in Europe, and is set to launch in partnership with Aberlour Child Care Trust later this year. It is also supported by the Scottish Government.

There are around 200 separated children currently in Scotland, who arrived on their own fleeing horrific situations of war or tribal conflict. Many have witnessed family members being persecuted or killed.

We believe that every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child should be given an independent advocate to guide them through the complexities of the asylum and social work systems, and ensure that their best interests are identified and taken into consideration.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Scottish Refugee Council is very pleased that the Big Lottery Fund has recognised the need to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

“Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are usually in a very vulnerable position, alone and often unable to understand the language, culture or the way of life in Scotland. Without access to appropriate support, they could be at further risk of exploitation, marginalisation and discrimination. They deserve the same protection as every other child in Scotland.”

“Our proposal is therefore that these young people are assigned someone who can independently advocate for them at every turn to help them through the asylum process. Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund we can now continue to build on our plans for a pilot Guardianship Project.”

Alison Magee, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said: “Imagine being a young teenager living in a new country with no family, nowhere to live and no understanding of the local culture after being forced to leave your home country through no fault of your own. That’s the situation faced by many vulnerable young people who have arrived in Scotland often from very volatile backgrounds.

“I am delighted that the Big Lottery Fund is making this half a million pound investment in the guardianship pilot which will trial a new way of working towards improving the quality of life of these young people as they go through the asylum process.”

Aberlour’s Chief Executive, Addie Stevenson said: “We are very excited to be working with Scottish Refugee Council. We feel that our intensive experience of working with children, coupled with Scottish Refugee Council’s knowledge and experience in working with refugees, will help make this a very interesting and innovative service for Scotland.”

For more information contact Scottish Refugee Council media officers Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927/ 07734 030 763

Notes to Editors

In 2006 Scottish Refugee Council published research on the experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The report, titled ‘This is a good place to live and think about the future’, is available on our website at:

http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/pub/UASC_report

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland. We also provide specialist services in areas such as housing and welfare, women's issues, community development, the media and the arts.

We play a leading role in policy development and campaign on refugee issues to ensure that Scotland plays a full role in meeting the UK's legal and humanitarian obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.