Supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people

Resources for members of the public, providers and professionals

About young unaccompanied asylum seekers

A young unaccompanied asylum seeker is:

  • a child who is under 18
  • is applying for asylum in their own right
  • has no adult relative or guardian in this country.

We have a duty to protect and support these highly vulnerable children while they are in our care.

The local authority takes the responsibility of supporting the child by providing accommodation, meeting general needs and then supporting them as care leavers when they reach the age of 18.

The journey to Oxfordshire

Most unaccompanied asylum seekers come to the UK from war zones. Some have experienced hardship of different types. For example, perilous journeys and separation from their families. Some have experienced abuse or are trafficked to the country.

When they arrive traumatised and exhausted, some may face hostility, disbelief and prejudice from the community. While a few are reunited with their families, many grow up in the UK care system finding their own network of friends.

Asylum seekers, in general, face a long, anxious wait to hear whether they have been granted asylum. Some are directed back to their countries after they are 18.

Local and national services

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Mentoring and befriending

Refugee Resource, Refugee Support Network and EMBS Community College provide volunteer mentors and befrienders to young unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees in Oxford.

The project aims to increase the overall confidence of young people and increase their confidence in speaking English. 

Young people are matched with a trained educational mentor, who will support them to meet their education-related goals - this could be practising spoken or written English, helping them feel more confident whatever their level, for example from day to day basic conversations to applying for jobs, or helping with homework and practising subject-specific learning. 

Make a referral (doc format)

Controlling Migration Fund

Controlling Migration Fund - Oxfordshire’s Programme of work to enhance our support to UASC

In December 2017, Oxfordshire County Council was successful in gaining central government funding from the Controlling Migration Fund for a two-year programme to enhance the support provided to UASCs and young people entering Oxfordshire. 

Oxfordshire’s programme aims to support UASCs to thrive, integrate within their local community as well as manage the impact upon service pressures for the resident community and prevent community tension. 

This programme of work includes:

  • training opportunities
  • counselling Service for UASC
  • mentoring and befriending service for UASC
  • transition worker to support UASC into school, college, play and leisure opportunities
  • a clinical psychologist who will work with UASC and professionals working with UASC.

From attending training and being supported by other professionals to support UASC, staff across the county will be more confident and better equipped to support the children and young people arriving unaccompanied into Oxfordshire, to thrive and achieve positive outcomes.

Controlling Migration Fund - Oxford City Council

Oxford City Council also received funding and has a series of projects underway to support refugee and migrating families and adults entering Oxfordshire.

These projects include:

  • funding additional pre-entry English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants;
  • funding mentoring and volunteering opportunities for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants;
  • developing updated and new information packs to inform vulnerable migrants of access to the availability of support services;
  • tackling rogue landlords who let properties in poor and/or overcrowded conditions to vulnerable migrants;
  • supporting migrant rough sleepers to access accommodation and support services;
  • improving the community’s capacity to tackle anti-social behaviour, exploitation of migrants and human trafficking by gathering evidence.

Funded by Oxford City Council, Elmore Community Services is researching the nature and extent of modern slavery and human trafficking in Oxford city. Modern-day slavery encompasses sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminality and domestic servitude.

The research aims to generate a stronger evidence base on which city and county-wide bodies responsible for community safety can better:

  • assess the threat, harm and risks posed by modern slavery to adults and children in Oxford: what kinds of exploitation are taking place, where, and who is vulnerable
  • develop more effective responses to identify, protect, refer and support victims.

The evidence generated should also inform work on prevention, from reducing vulnerability to disrupting criminal activities, and thus make it harder for exploiters and traffickers to operate in Oxford.

Elmore Community Services would like to hear, in confidence, from anyone who is concerned about these issues and has the knowledge to share which will support their research. 

Building Bridges - support from a transition worker

Funded by Oxfordshire County Council, the new project Building Bridges aims to support newly arrived UASCs to integrate.

It aims to:

  • support young people’s smooth transition into educational provision.  
  • support USAC to participate in social and recreational activities of their choice.  
  • support young people to address their cultural, religious and social needs as required.  
  • work in partnership with other service providers to facilitate and advance UASC to community integration.  

If you would like to refer someone who you think might benefit from this service, please complete the referral form (doc format) and email to Abraham Woldegiorgis, the UASC transition at