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13/06/13 04:30

Glowing report on children’s support service

Westminster Committee calls on UK to follow the lead on Scottish Guardianship.

Scotland’s success in supporting vulnerable young asylum seekers should be used as a model for England and Wales, according to a Westminster committee on Human Rights.

The final report of The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) - made up of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords and responsible for considering human rights issues in the UK – yesterday called for the UK government to commission pilot projects emulating the ground-breaking Scottish Guardianship Service.

The service assigns each young person a ‘guardian’ to help them navigate the asylum system and rebuild their lives in Scotland. The guardians act as independent advocates for the child, assisting them with everything from dealing with lawyers to helping build social networks and access medical care.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell will recognise the service during a debate in the Scottish Parliament today ahead of Scottish Refugee Week next week.

Ms Campbell said:

“Since it was launched in 2010, more than 100 vulnerable young people - some of them victims of trafficking - have been supported through the complex asylum system by the Scottish Guardianship Service. Having met some of those involved I have heard first hand how having a dedicated guardian has given these young people a sense of reassurance, security and ambition for the future that is absolutely inspiring.

“The independent evaluation of the service earlier this year found the overwhelming majority of young people credited the service with improving their overall wellbeing and providing positive opportunities. In February, I announced that Scottish Government funding for this pioneering partnership between charity Aberlour and the Scottish Refugee Council would continue at £200,000 annually for the next three years.”

The initial evaluation showed that guardians supported children from 17 countries including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Nigeria and Iran, and the majority were 15-17 years old.

Ms Campbell added: “Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, even prior to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. I have witnessed the enthusiasm and desire to help that these guardians show and the gratitude of the young people given a new future here. The JCHR’s recognition of this is very welcome and we will be happy to share what we have learned with others as this project serves as an example to the rest of the UK and the world.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Guardianship Service pilot phase was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Scottish Government.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights report on migrant children - http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/news/publication-of-first-report-human-rights-of-unaccompanied-migrant-children-and-young-people/