In 2017, 2,206 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in the UK. Many of these children have to wait a long time for a decision on their cases, leading to uncertainty and mental health issues. The government is currently facing legal action over extensive delays in processing child asylum claims.
A child who'd been trafficked from Eritrea at the age of 15 described this waiting:
“It is like the indefinite Eritrean national service, it is endless. I have problems with my sleep, sometimes I didn’t sleep for 24 hours I just stayed awake worrying.”
As children and young people wait for decisions on their asylum cases, education can be such a stabilising force for good. By matching them up with volunteer educational mentors from their communities and providing them with additional support, these young people - many of whom struggle with trauma, fear and isolation - become more confident, hopeful and able to keep looking to the future.
One young asylum seeker told us:
"I feel more confident because my mentor helps me. I miss something when we cannot meet. It relaxes me when I'm stressed. She is very friendly and she gives me extra help when I have a test. The programme helps if you don't know the language. It makes you feel nice. It's good for everyone to have someone helping you. Even when it's hard, if someone helps you or pushes you, you don't give up."