France, Greece, Italy and the UK
There are unaccompanied child refugees across Europe, but there are certain areas where concentrations of vulnerable children are highest. The Safe Passage UK head office is based in London, and we have an established presence in Northern France, and small but growing teams in Greece (in Athens and on the Greek Islands) and Italy.
We believe we have a duty of care to our clients and their families in their first crucial months following their arrival. Clients often build up significant levels of trust with Safe Passage UK’s field teams and it is therefore natural for this relationship to be carried through to their initial integration in the UK.
Upon arrival, Safe Passage UK provides each client with information on the next steps of their asylum process. As a matter of course, we immediately refer clients on to immigration and community care solicitors. We provide interpreters for their appointments and signpost them to relevant organisations who can support them in more specific ways. As part of this work, we are currently producing a Welcome Pack that each Safe Passage UK client will receive upon arrival. The pack will be translated into five languages and will help prepare clients for the asylum process, in addition to listing what services they are entitled to access and key contacts in their local area who offer community activities, support and welcome.
Underlying this support, we are also establishing a Safe Passage UK buddy programme, in which volunteer interpreters act as buddies for children when they arrive. The buddy provides practical, as well as pastoral, support to clients, including accompanying them to appointments, registering them with a local college and GP, in addition to finding local community activities and groups for clients to engage in. As part of this offer, we will also provide each client with a ‘Safe Card’ that will enable to them to access direct financial support that could go towards travel costs, education and activity memberships such as swimming lessons.
In partnership with our parent charity, Citizens UK, we have also helped support the growth of 96 Refugee Welcome groups across the country. From Devon to Pitlochry, Lambeth to Darlington, as well as leading work on resettlement and Community Sponsorship these groups played a critical role campaigning for Parliament to pass the Dubs amendment and subsequently to get their local councils signed up to take in Dubs children. As children arrive in the UK these welcome groups will be driving community-led initiatives with refugee and asylum-seeking children, to support and empower children as they embark on a new life in the UK. We will develop these welcome groups as continued a powerful force for the protection of refugee children in the UK.
What we plan to do next
”I want to tell the children … that there is a safe way to come to the UK. Trust the people from Safe Passage, because they want to help you.” Adnan, 14, Syria
UNHCR estimates that 43% of those refugees arriving in Europe have family connections here, this rate is higher for children and rising. We want replicate what we have achieved for unaccompanied refugee children in Calais for refugee children across Europe, creating safe and legal routes in place of trafficking, barbed wire and suffocating lorries.
In the first instance this looks like creating routes to the UK for those children who are eligible, but over the year ahead we want to also increasingly focus on ensuring the routes we open are also opened to other European destination countries like Germany and Sweden. This approach holds the potential to increase the number of children gaining safe passage from the high hundreds to the tens of thousands over the next few years.
Help us find a way to give everyone fleeing persecution safe passage. Your donation will be made to Citizens UK and ring-fenced for the Safe Passage programme.Go to Donate Page