Anyone aged under 18 is a child in the UK. Anyone over 18 is an adult and has different rights. Often children who are refugees or asylum seekers have lost identity documents or are not sure of their age. They are treated as a child until they have an age assessment, which decides if they are a child or an adult.
The assessments are carried out by social workers. Social workers also help keep the child safe, find them a school or college, a safe place to stay and a doctor.
Crucial: Sometimes children are brought into the county from abroad, or from other places in the UK, to be exploited. This could include sexual exploitation or forced marriage, making the child look after, carry or sell drugs, or making the child work long hours, look after children or do housework. This is called Child Trafficking and is child abuse. You can report concerns to the Local Authority or the Police. Find out more about Modern Slavery.
A difficult time
Having to leave your home and country is a frightening experience. Refugees may have lost all their belongings and left family members behind. They may be traumatised by the experiences they have been through. As well as the support available through the County Council, there are other groups that provide specialist support and information for asylum seekers in Oxfordshire.
Help in other languages: The NSPCC has made leaflets in lots of different languages to help young people understand terms like refugee, trafficking and asylum seeker. As well as English, these leaflets are available in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, Romanian, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.
Who can help?
Oxfordshire County Council's Social and Health Care Asylum Seeker Service is responsible for providing housing and support to young asylum seekers, under the age of 18, who are in this country without their family. As well as providing somewhere to live, the service helps with school or college enrolment and generally offers advice and support.
Asylum Welcome is an independent service supporting and welcoming asylum seekers and refugees in Oxford. They prioritise work with young people who are unaccompanied asylum seekers by having a dedicated youth worker, working with asylum seeking children and refugees from 13-23 years old. Their youth worker offers 1:1 support and guidance wide range of topics including education, training, careers, asylum support, welfare benefits and housing or help to resolve problems with peers or at school. They also run a weekly youth club offering food, music, games, pool, table tennis and a chance to meet and socialise. For more information get in touch with Helena: 07786074565 or check out the website.
Open Door is a small charity supported by Oxford City Council providing a drop-in service which runs out of East Oxford Community Centre on Thursdays from 11-4 providing advice, information, support, fun activities and a free lunch.
For more information about local charities supporting refugees and asylum seekers, see Oxford City Council's Asylum Seeker's information page.