Thursday, April 05, 2012
STARs across the network joined forces last week to put on two fabulous events for Young People Seeking Safety Week. Here’s what we got up to and why we’re backing this important cause!
STARs all across the UK have been taking action for Young People Seeking Safety week, which ran from March 30th to April 5th. YPSS is a network of individuals and organisations, including STAR, who know, support or work with young people seeking safety in our communities. Together the group takes action to improve the treatment of young people seeking safety in the UK.
What did STARs get up to?
Our brand new UCL STAR group kicked off the action with a fantastic event, ‘Unaccompanied Afghan minors and the UK Asylum Policy’, highlighting the legal complexities facing unaccompanied Afghan minors arriving in the UK.
STAR Northern Conference
Up in Manchester, the STAR Northern Conference dedicated a whole day of interactive workshops and panel discussion to the situation of young refugees. Students from 7 STAR groups all pitched in to make the event a fantastic success. Hannah Ashman from STAR Manchester said,
“the decision to focus on young people in the STAR Northern Conference was influenced by the fact that many of us in STAR are also young people. Being young is hard at the best of times – I can only begin to imagine what it must be like for someone who has fled their country for protection in the UK, only to end up in an asylum system which is isolating, disorientating and disbelieving of the people it should be supporting! Raising awareness about the issues that young people seeking asylum face in this country is really important. Not only are some of the difficulties they face often quite different to those faced by other asylum seekers, but people in general tend to forget – or prefer to forget – this particular demographic within the refugee community.”
Catch up on what happened at the conference here
Why is YPSS Important?
Young asylum seekers in Britain face a range of unique challenges which make their experience of the asylum system in the UK particularly painful. Many also experience extremely distressing circumstances before they arrive. They may have seen loved ones persecuted or killed, faced horrific and prolonged journeys and experienced extreme isolation. When they arrive in the UK the welcome they receive is often far from warm. Some of the key problems stem from the high rate of error in age assessments and confusion over legal statuses and decision making. Age assessments are crucial since they determine how the asylum application is treated. Getting the assessment right can make the difference between unlawfully detaining the asylum applicant or rightfully directing them to the care of their Local Authority.
The UKBA decision-making process has been widely criticized by organisations and policy makers with regard to young people. In 2009 only 7% of 780 unaccompanied young asylum seekers were granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain. 93% were refused and subject to forced removals.
Young asylum seekers may wait years in the UK awaiting the resolution of their case, and life in UK is a daily struggle for many young asylum seekers who are caught in the system. A recent report from the Children’s Society revealed that thousands of asylum seeking children suffer the effects of destitution. Like all asylum seekers, young people in the asylum system are also effectively barred from access higher education due to policies which treat them as international students and prevent them from working to support themselves. Some children continue to be detained for the purpose of immigration control.
What Can STARs Do?
There are several things that your STAR group can do to support young people seeking safety.
1. Volunteer with STAR
Hundreds of STARs up and down the country give their time every week to volunteer at projects that support young refugees in their local communities. These include homework clubs, mentoring schemes and play groups. Check out what your local STAR group can offer by consulting our group map here!
2. Be a STAR Campaigner
Join 5,000 other students across the UK and campaign for equal access to higher education for asylum seekers and refugees, and an end to destitution! Make sure you keep checking the STAR website and join our Facebook group for the latest campaign updates from around the Network.
3. Put on a YPSS Event
The YPSS coalition aims to bring local attention to the issues faced by young asylum seekers and to encourage conversation and action across the UK. You could help to provide a platform for young people to share their experiences and showcase for their talent through creative events! For event ideas, and to see what’s already going on near you check out the YPSS website.
STARs, 5,000 of you really can make the UK a safe place for young refugees!
Posted by STAR team on 05/04/2012 at 04:51 PM