As a leading children’s rights charity and provider of advocacy services to vulnerable children, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) are pledging their full support to ECPAT (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking UK) Stable futures campaign as they call on the UK government to ensure that a proper long term plan is in place for every trafficked child, providing them with a secure, lasting immigration status if they need it.
Young people in this situation often find that identification as a victim is not the end of their ordeal but the beginning of a new one. Barriers to securing their immigration status, poor decision making and lengthy waits for immigration claims and other important decisions, as well as a lack of support to navigate the many complex legal and care systems in the UK mean that often these young people are often re-traumatised. Following difficult journeys to the UK, many unaccompanied children are victims of trafficking, but this often goes undetected by the authorities as there is no one for them to confide in.
These young people can be kept in limbo for long periods of time, alone without a trusted adult to support them. When they turn 18, much of the support they have received falls abruptly away, which can leave them destitute. At this point, they become more vulnerable to people who may exploit their desperation and many go missing from care. They may also face being returned to their country of origin where they may be met with further harm or even re-trafficking.
The campaign is calling on the UK Government to:
- Expand the Independent Child Trafficking Guardian service in England and Wales to all unaccompanied children as well as those already identified as potentially trafficked.
- Establish a process to find a long-term, sustainable arrangement for each child victim of trafficking, and provide these children with indefinite leave to remain in the UK if it is in their best interests.
Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive said, “Every child deserves a stable future. Independent Guardians can be vital to safeguarding that stability. NYAS fully supports ECPAT’s campaign to expand the Independent Child Trafficking Guardian service in England and Wales to all unaccompanied children. We also urge the Government to listen to the wishes and feelings of each child who becomes a victim of trafficking, and always act in their best interests. The UK must not turn its back on any child victims of trafficking.”
For more information on the Stable futures campaign click here