We believe we have a duty of care to new arrivals and their families in their first crucial months in the UK. Upon arrival, Safe Passage refers beneficiaries on to excellent immigration lawyers to handle their asylum case. We can provide interpreters for their appointments and signpost them to relevant organisations who can support them in areas such as housing, finances and accessing education. Each Safe Passage beneficiary and their receiving family are sent a Welcome Pack that helps prepare the new arrivals for the asylum process and lists key contacts in their local area who offer community activities, support and welcome.
Underlying this support, we have established a Community Mentor programme, whereby local volunteers provide practical, as well as pastoral, support to beneficiaries, including accompanying them to appointments, registering them with a local college and GP, in addition to finding local community activities and groups for clients to engage in.
In partnership with our parent charity, Citizens UK, we have also helped support the growth of 96 Refugee Welcome groups across the country. From Devon to Pitlochry, Lambeth to Darlington, as well as leading work on resettlement and Community Sponsorship these groups played a critical role campaigning for Parliament to pass the Dubs amendment and subsequently to get their local councils signed up to take in Dubs children. As children arrive in the UK these welcome groups will be driving community-led initiatives with refugee and asylum-seeking children, to support and empower children as they embark on a new life in the UK. We will develop these welcome groups as continued a powerful force for the protection of refugee children in the UK.
What we plan to do next
”I want to tell the children … that there is a safe way to come to the UK. Trust the people from Safe Passage, because they want to help you.” Adnan, 14, Syria
UNHCR estimates that 43% of those refugees arriving in Europe have family connections here, this rate is higher for children and rising. We want replicate what we have achieved for unaccompanied refugee children in Calais for refugee children across Europe, creating safe and legal routes in place of trafficking, barbed wire and suffocating lorries.
In the first instance this is about creating routes to the UK for those children who are eligible, but over the year ahead we want to also increasingly focus on ensuring the routes we open are also opened to other European destination countries like Germany and Sweden. This approach holds the potential to increase the number of children gaining safe passage from the hundreds to the tens of thousands over the next few years.
We also want to try and help young people avoid the dangerous and traumatic journey to or across Europe by increasing their chances of being reunited with the families in the UK directly from their home country, or from neighbouring countries that they have fled to. At the moment, the rules around family reunion (outside of Europe and the scope of the Dublin Regulation) are very restrictive and the process is far too expensive for most families. We have now started working with lawyers on cases where the young person is at great risk, has family in the UK and has not travelled to Europe. We hope that many of these cases will lead to successful family reunion in 2018, and we will be pushing the UK government to widen these rules throughout the year.