Since Dost was founded in 2000, in response to the needs of children who have arrived in the UK alone seeking protection from violence, abuse and persecution in their home countries, there has never been an ‘easy’ time for young refugees and migrants. However, the current climate is a particularly challenging time for these young people and those who seek to offer them support.
Challenging times: From Brexit to Trump
Even pre-Brexit, funding and support for young refugees and migrant programmes was limited at best. It has now been cut even further. 2016 was a particularly challenging period, with Brexit and the Leave campaign resulting in increased hostility and violence towards those seeking safety in the UK. This has been compounded by the election of President Trump in the US, and his abhorrent approach to immigration, which of course has a global impact not limited to to those seeking asylum in the US.
The most pressing matters for us here at Dost concern the immediate safety of those children arriving in the UK. We, and our fellow Refugee Children’s Consortium members, are now fighting against the Government’s recent decision to close a safe route for unaccompanied minors seeking protection in the UK. The ‘Dubs amendment’, an agreement under Section 67 of 2016 the Immigration Act, required the Home Office to transfer these at-risk children to England and Wales, in consultation with the Local Authorities. The closure of this scheme comes following earlier restrictions on eligibility according to age and nationality and we believe that its subsequent sudden closure suggests that the Government was never fully committed to protecting vulnerable children, who will now become even more likely to be targeted by human traffickers due to the lack of safe alternatives. We strongly oppose the scheme’s closure and are calling on the Government to re-open it. A high court challenge to the decision to close the scheme is due to be heard in early May.
Providing Practical and Emotional Support
With an estimated number of more than 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children across Europe, we are seeing an unprecedented number of young people referred to us and arriving directly on our doorstep, seeking both practical and emotional support. Many have left their home countries having lost everything and in fear of their lives, and have nowhere else to turn.
At Dost, we have a policy of not turning away any young person in need. We may be the only adults that they can trust, and we have a duty of care to provide a safe space for them in a hostile world.
MPs have now voted to trigger Article 50 and although it is still legally possible to cancel Brexit we must not be complacent. If Brexit does go ahead, this would mean that we will lose access to the avenues of justice available to us as part of the EU, so these young people need us more than ever, at a time when we have the least resources to provide assistance.
We are doing all that we can but we need your help. If you would like to help us continue to provide essential services to all those who come to us, please consider donating towards our work.
We welcome every donation, whether it’s a one-off text or a monthly contribution. Every penny goes towards making a positive difference to the lives of the young people we work with, whether directly through our 1:1 support or indirectly through our advocacy and consultation work. If you would like to make a private donation, please contact us for details of how to do this.