Children’s Advice Project - Refugee Council

Children’s Advice Project

We have provided the only national service providing advice and support to children who arrive in the UK on their own seeking asylum since 1994. Our team helps children through the asylum system and ensures that they are protected and represented. We also give information to carers and other professionals who work with children and young people.

As they move through the asylum process, unaccompanied refugee children experience constant change and instability. They see many different officials and professionals, which can be confusing and disorientating. Our team are often the only people they can turn to for consistent expert guidance and support.

All unaccompanied children who seek protection in the UK are referred to our service by the government. We provide a tailored response to children who have a wide range of needs. Some need intensive support with a number of issues over a period of time, others need specific advice about a particular concern. Whether at our drop-in sessions or through telephone advice or support at external appointments, we create a friendly environment where children feel safe and confident of receiving help.

Since 2015, we’ve had a 24/7 presence, in dedicated premises, at the Home Office’s Kent Intake Unit (KIU), located within the Port of Dover. We are contracted by the Home Office to take temporary care of any unaccompanied refugee children passing through the KIU, following initial processing by the Home Office, and before they are  taken into care by social services. The focus of our work at the KIU is on safeguarding, supporting and meeting the basic needs of the young people.

Children are offered a change of clothes, hot food and snacks, and the opportunity to rest. We offer information and advice to each child on their current situation and what to expect in the coming days and weeks, though at this stage most children simply want to rest. Importantly, they are in a safe place following their arduous journey. Once they have moved into the care of the local authority, colleagues in our national Children’s Advice Project maintain contact, following up with them and their social workers to provide further support and advice.

We help them:

  • access legal representation
  • attend asylum interviews and appeal hearings
  • during appointments with GPs, hospitals, social services and other service providers
  • access education

We also advise other professionals including foster carers, key workers and social workers about the children in their care and wider issues.

3,113

children were supported in 2018/19

329

children who had arrived from Calais were welcomed at our centre in Dover, giving them something to eat, a clean change of clothes, and the support and care they needed

1,464

calls were dealt with on our national advice line

30

we provide advice at more than 30 drop-in surgeries throughout the country

20

our team speak more than 20 languages

Unaccompanied children's stories


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If you work with unaccompanied refugee children who need support, get in touch at the details below or find out more about referral and drop-in options here.

Contact details

Children’s Service