Scottish Guardianship Service becomes founding member of European Guardianship Network

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The Scottish Guardianship Service is to become a founding member of the European Guardianship Network.

The Scottish Guardianship Service is a long-standing partnership between Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Childcare Trust that supports refugee children and young people, and victims of trafficking, who arrive in Scotland alone.

Since 2010 the Scotland-wide service has supported over 435 young people from 31 countries to get the help they need, when they need it. Guardians are currently helping 170 children and young people who are going through the asylum system or trafficking identification process. 

At a European level there has been an increasing focus on the rights and needs of this often highly vulnerable group of young people. Guardianship is recognised as critical to supporting young people however, there are great disparities between the types of guardianship provided to children in and within Europe.

The creation of a European Guardianship Network was announced by the European Commission in its Communication on the Protection of Children in Migration in 2017. The first preparatory meeting in Brussels was organised by the European Commission in 2017. It was attended and supported by representatives of 20 EU Member States as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Scottish Refugee Council, the only UK organisation attending, spoke at the second development meeting in October 2017.

The network, funded by the EU Commission, will be organised by the Dutch Guardianship organisation, NIDOS, and bring together other guardianship organisations, member states and NGOs.  

Maxine Hawthorn, Assistant Director, Abelour Childcare Trust:

“In Scotland we have seen the huge benefits that guardianship can bring to ensuring children and young people, often traumatised through their experiences, fully understand and are empowered to engage with complexities of the UK’s asylum and trafficking identification systems and to receive protection.  Of the 236 known young people’s asylum decisions, three out of four have been recognised as needing international protection. As one young person recently said to us, “When I arrived here I was broken My guardian put me back together. She was the glue”.   

Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council’s Head of Policy:

“The pioneering Scottish Guardianship Service has helped shape the development of similar services in England for trafficked young people as well as a system of guardianship in Northern Ireland for asylum seeking and trafficked children and young people. Being a member of the European Network on Guardianship will allow us to further share our experiences with member states and partner agencies across Europe as well as learn from others to make sure Scotland leads the way in ensuring refugee and trafficked children are protected and supported to build a new life in Scotland and thrive here.”

Read more about the Scottish Guardianship Service here