We were delighted to welcome First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to our offices today.
The First Minister spent the morning listening to young people discuss their experiences of seeking refugee protection while alone and separated from their families.
The young people are all receiving support from our Scottish Guardianship Service, a unique, award-winning project that provides unaccompanied refugee children with sustained, one-to-one support and guidance in the form of a professional ‘guardian’.
WATCH: First Minister meets young people from the Scottish Guardianship Service
The First Minister said:
“It was a privilege to meet these young people today. It was wonderful to hear about the welcome and support they have received in Scotland and to hear them describe the Scottish Guardianship Service as ‘family’. I want to thank the Guardianship Service for its lifeline work but more importantly I want to say thank you to each of these young people. Thank you for everything you bring to us, you are all a credit to Scotland.”
The First Minister was speaking ahead of a roundtable meeting with local authorities and children’s charities focussed on creating a national framework agreement on unaccompanied children.
Gary Christie, Head of Policy at Scottish Refugee Council, said:
“We are delighted the First Minister had the chance to hear directly from young people who came to Scotland alone and separated from their families. From working with these young people, we know they have been through things no child should ever experience.
“Half of the world’s refugees are under eighteen years old and more and more children are displaced from their homes and forced to seek refugee protection alone. We are proud to help these young people in Scotland and support the First Minister’s efforts to secure a national framework detailing how unaccompanied children should be supported here.
“Unaccompanied refugee children must be treated as children first and foremost, with all the rights and protections afforded to looked-after children in this country. These young people have specific needs because of the uniquely painful and traumatic experiences they have been through but we must always remember that they are children above all else.”
The Scottish Guardianship Service supports unaccompanied and trafficked young people by helping them to navigate the immigration and welfare systems, feel supported and empowered throughout the asylum process and help them make informed decisions about their future, as well as offering valuable friendship and emotional support. The service is run in partnership between Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Childcare Trust.