Coram has contributed its expertise on the challenges faced by 16 and 17 year-olds who need to navigate the asylum and immigration system to “Transitions into adulthood”, a report coordinated by the Children’s Society which sets out the case for a cross-departmental taskforce to be responsible for easing this key transitional period in young people’s lives.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) works daily with this age group, and its contribution to the report sets out how the complexities of the system mean that many are highly vulnerable if they transition into adulthood with unresolved immigration issues. Each year between 2,000 and 3,000 unaccompanied young people claim asylum in the UK, the majority of whom end up looked after by a local authority under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. There are thousands more children who are in care but are ‘undocumented’ – living without regular immigration status – and will urgently need legal support.
Coram highlights that both young people and social workers lack an understanding of the asylum and immigration system, and 16 and 17 year olds can face the threat of having their leaving care support cut off, or being removed from the country, at the age of 18.
Kamena Dorling, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Coram, says:
“Local authorities must take steps to ensure that all children in their care subject to immigration control are identified and assisted to secure their status in the UK, including access to legal advice and representation.
“Many children turn 18 and leave care without the necessary transition planning and over half of children in care do not know they have the right to an independent advocate. In addition to the excellent recommendations in this report, Coram is calling for a duty on local authorities to provide an ‘active offer’ of advocacy to ensure that all children and young people are always offered advocacy support when they come into care and at key transition points.”
Along with the other charities that are part of the campaign, Coram hope to encourage the government to work together across departments in supporting young people as they move on to adult life, creating a future where they have the best chances to succeed.