Every Child in Wales Matters
The range of experiences and challenges that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Wales can face often lead them to crisis points. This can trigger further instances of exploitation and unsafety.
At NYAS, we work to protect, support, empower and safeguard every child and young person in Wales to make sure they have the best opportunities possible in life.
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children in Wales: The Facts
An unaccompanied asylum-seeking child is any child who is applying for asylum in their own right; separated from both parents and not being cared for by an adult who by law has responsibility to do so.
- Over 80% of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children across the UK identify Eritrea, Sudan, Vietnam, Albania, Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq as their country of origin.
- 54% of unaccompanied and separated children in the UK are thought to be suffering from PTSD.
- 1 in 3 unaccompanied and separated children in the UK live with depression.
- 31% of CAMHS Wales (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) patients waited over four weeks for their initial mental health appointment.
- Trafficked and unaccompanied children are 30 times more likely to go missing than other children their age.
Support, Protect, Safeguard and Empower
In August 2020, we submitted the recommendations below to the Welsh Government. Each of the recommendations below is designed to make sure that Wales is seen as a place of safety for all children.
Protect children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children should be provided with clear summaries of the mental health and wellbeing services in Wales.
This must be written in the young person’s native language, and should include information that details how to access each support option.
Support children and young people through the Age Assessment process
The Welsh Government should create clear guidance for Local Authorities and practitioners which details the role of the Appropriate Adult in Age Assessments.
They should also ensure that every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child in Wales has the right to a fully trained independent Appropriate Adult. Clear information should also be provided regarding how to access an Appropriate Adult.
Empower children and young people with independent advocacy
Every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child must have an active offer of independent advocacy. This guarantees that their rights and entitlements are protected throughout their asylum journey.
Safeguard children and young people from trafficking and exploitation
The Welsh Government should make statutory provision for every child in Wales to be offered an independent return interview after a missing episode.
This interview must be conducted by someone independent of the police and local authority. Every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child must be given information about trafficking and exploitation in their own language.
From the day I came here I cried a lot every day. I feel desperate. I always hope to have someone to free me. I just want to sit in the corner. When I sit in the corner and I hear a car stop I just hope that person comes to take me away
Mai, Age 16
I've been very lonely and depressed and crying all the time. I can't sleep at night. I think a lot.
Darius, Age 15
This is an evolving campaign, so you can find the latest campaign updates and successes below. This should keep you informed on the progress of this campaign’s aim to improve support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Wales.
We are delighted that through our collaboration with the Welsh Government, NYAS have successfully delivered on three of the campaign recommendations listed above. Since August 2020, we have achieved the following successes:
- Protect children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing: The Welsh Government has now issued clear summaries of the mental health offers available to young people across Wales.
These summaries are now made available in the first language of unaccompanied asylum seeking children to ensure they can access the support they need with reduced access barriers.
- Support children and young people through the Age Assessment process: The Welsh Government has produced strengthened guidance for local authorities and practitioners on the role of the Appropriate Adult in age assessments.
This new guidance includes additional information on the independent role of Appropriate Adults and the training they are required to undertake.
- Empower children and young people with independent advocacy: Guidance has now been produced by the Welsh Government to improve unaccompanied asylum-seeking children’s access to advocacy.
This guidance indicates that an active offer of independent advocacy should be made at the earliest opportunity. This should be as close to when unaccompanied asylum-seeking children enter the country as possible.
We have not yet achieved the final recommendation of our campaign, which is to make independent return interviews a statutory requirement in Wales.
NYAS are continuing to pursue this in line with our Missing the Point campaign.