Support for Separated Children and Young People


The Scottish Guardianship Service provides personalised and sustained support to children and young people who are separated from their families. This service is run by Aberlour Children's Charity in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council.

Who is this service for?

The service works with children and young people who are separated from their parents and arrive in the UK frightened and alone. Many of the children we work with have lived through things no child should experience, including various types of exploitation. They now find themselves separated from their parents, alone in a foreign country with no one to rely on.

How we help

Our lifeline service provides advice, guidance and one-to-one support to help  young people recover from their experiences and come to terms with their new circumstances.

Our guardians offer a professional, friendly pillar of support to help each of the young people through the journey ahead of them. This includes understanding their rights within a foreign country, supporting them through the complex asylum, trafficking and welfare systems, supporting them to return to school or college, building confidence and social networks and providing a much needed reliable listening ear. Overall our guardians help young people feel supported and empowered and able to make informed decisions about their future.

The service creates opportunities for young people to meet their peers and to make friends and supports them to socialise, play and have fun.

To find out more, read An evaluation of the Scottish Guardianship Service: The work of Guardians within asylum determination and National Referral Mechanism process


Friendship, social and community support is so important for unaccompanied children and young people arriving in Scotland. We train volunteer befrienders and ‘match’ them with children and young people so that together they can get to know their local area and connect with their community.

Befrienders also support children and young people to overcome challenges such as language and cultural barriers and the impact of trauma and anxiety about living in a new community and a different country.

We work in partnership with Aberlour to deliver the Scottish Guardianship Service.

How to access this service

Referrals to the service can be made from any Local Authority or agency in Scotland. Visit Aberlour Child Care Trust's website for more information. This service is based at our Glasgow office.

About the European Guardianship Network

The Scottish Guardianship Service is a founding member of the European Guardianship Network. The Network, funded by the EU Commission and coordinated by the Dutch Guardianship organisation NIDOS, brings together other guardianship organisations, member states and NGOs. Being a member of the European Network on Guardianship enables Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour to 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 and thrive here.

Read An evaluation of the Scottish Guardianship Service: The work of Guardians within asylum determination and National Referral Mechanism process

Make an appointment for this service: 0808 196 7274

“I came to the UK with an agent who brought me to Glasgow. I was sixteen. I had no idea where I was going – I’d never been away from my home country before and I didn’t speak English.”


Q&A with Catriona

Service Manager, Catriona MacSween, answers our questions about the Scottish Guardianship Service.

Giving children a voice

Participation Officer, Stefan, shares his thoughts on helping young people to make friends, have fun and get involved in their new communities.

Expertise and best practice

Find out more about our research, policy and campaigning work to support separated children and young people.

More in this section

Help us make Scotland a more welcoming place for people seeking safety