To introduce myself, I’m Francesco, a children’s adviser at the Refugee Council, specialising in age dispute cases. You may have seen me on Channel 4’s Dispatches, The Kids Britain Doesn’t Want on Monday, meeting my client, 16 year old Mohibullah at our offices just after he had been detained for the fourth time.
Mohib is one of the many young people I have worked with over the last year who are facing similar battles with their local authorities and the border agency to be given protection here. These are children who have fled horrifying situations in their own countries, and then just as they think they have reached a safe place, they are then met with distrust by immigration officials and are often put in detention. This year alone, I have helped 27 children to get released, who were originally judged wrongly to be adults, from detention – that’s 71% of the cases I’ve worked on. I’m now working on many more cases like that to ensure that those we believe to be children, are properly looked after as children, just like we’d expect any other child in the UK to be treated.
Thanks for sending in your questions – I’ll be answering them over the next hour here on the Refugee Council Poliblog (with some help from my colleagues Judith and Helen) so please do keep tweeting (using #RCQs) or posting on Facebook, if there’s anything else you want to ask me about my work with young people.