Girl Guardianship
The Scottish Guardian Service helps asylum-seeking children through the process.

A service for refugee children who are alone and separated from their families, run by Aberlour Childcare Trust in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, has won the prestigious ECPAT UK’s 2016 Children’s Champion award.

The award recognises the service’s unrivalled model of supporting young people, some of whom have been trafficked to Scotland and experienced multiple types of exploitation. The service is recognised as a beacon of good practice for people working to help unaccompanied refugee children across the UK.

The Scottish Guardianship Service provides an independent ‘guardian’ for young separated children: someone to be by their side and on their side. Guardians help these young people find their way through the UK’s complex asylum, immigration and welfare processes and help them to make informed decisions about their future. They also help the young people with everyday issues like enrolling in school and college, registering with their GP and making social connections.

Catriona MacSween, accepting the award on behalf of the Scottish Guardianship Service, said:

“We are delighted and honoured to have been awarded the ECPAT UK’s 2016 Children’s Champion award and to be recognised for our child-centred model of practice.

“The Scottish Guardianship Service has strived to ensure trafficked and asylum-seeking young people are at the heart of decisions affecting them. The service has grown and evolved over the past 6 years, shaped by young people and many partner agencies. ECPAT played an important role in the development of our model and continues to provide support and guidance with their expertise of child trafficking. This award can help shine a light on the need for young trafficked people across the UK to be equally treated and supported.”

In 2016 the service supported 78 recently arrived young people who arrived in Scotland alone and separated from their parents. 38% of these young people had been trafficked to the UK and experienced multiple types of exploitation.

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK, said:

“We thank the Scottish Guardianship Service for their outstanding commitment to children – we can think of few other organisations more deserving of this award. They have pioneered new systems of support for some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland, including child victims of trafficking. Organisations and governments across the UK should look to them as the standard bearers for independent guardianship.”

ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights organisation campaigning to protect children from child trafficking and transnational child sexual abuse. Each year the charity presents its Children’s Champion Award to one individual who has shown outstanding commitment to children.

Chris Pettigrew
Author: Chris Pettigrew