Child Protection Improvement Programme

Support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

June 30, 2023 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

Launch of new guardianship service

There will be more support for unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children arriving in Scotland, thanks to a new statutory guardianship service.

The Scottish Government has provided £1 million for the Guardianship Scotland service in 2022-23, and a further £1 million annually for the next two years initially.

The service will support children who have arrived in Scotland alone and help guide them through the asylum process.

Launching the service, Minister for Children and Young People Natalie Don said:

“It is a privilege to help launch this new guardianship service, which is another example of how Scotland is offering a welcoming environment to people arriving in our country.

What is the Guardianship Service?   

Guardianship Scotland will provide support and protection for vulnerable children and young people who arrive alone in Scotland.

Aberlour Children’s Charity and the Scottish Refugee Council have been awarded the contract to the run the service. The service will provide children and young people with a guardian who will act in their best interests and provide them with the necessary support and advice.

Minister for Children and Young People Natalie Don said:

“Arriving alone can have a devastating and lasting impact on the lives of children and young people – so it is vitally important for them to be given access to the care and support they need to help them adjust to their new life here.”

What is a Guardian?

Guardians will work closely with other professionals to draw together a network around each child, with the aim of building close and productive relationships with other professionals. This will include social workers, lawyers and health care professionals.

Professionals employed by Guardianship Scotland, known as Guardians, will:

  • accompany children and young people when they claim asylum and support them with expert advice
  • empower children and young people in the decision making process
  • listen to the experiences of affected children and young people and explain what is happening to them

Catriona MacSween, Head of Guardianship Scotland said:

“It is wonderful that we can continue to deliver the excellent service. It is testament to the commitment and fantastic work of our guardians who work closely with Local Authorities and many other organisations to support unaccompanied children and young people.

“Asylum-seeking children and victims of trafficking arrive in Scotland alone, confused and scared, having been through unimaginable trauma. We are so pleased that our work has been recognised and we can continue to help them.”

A positive future for Children seeking asylum in Scotland

SallyAnn Kelly OBE, Chief Executive of Aberlour Children’s Charity, said:

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the contract to run Guardianship Scotland.

“Aberlour has worked alongside the Scottish Government, Home Office and local authorities to ensure every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child who is a victim of trafficking or potential victim of trafficking has the support of a guardian over the past 12 years. Recently, we have seen a significant rise in the numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and there is an even greater need for the service.

“We are delighted to build on this successful partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council and provide support to more unaccompanied children.”

Sabir Zazai OBE, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council said:

“We are delighted to be delivering Guardianship Scotland with Aberlour and look forward to continuing our work together to develop this essential service.

“The young people we work with have been through things no child should have to endure. Many have survived human trafficking or fled countries torn apart by war, arriving in Scotland traumatised and alone with no friends or family to take care of them.

“We are committed to ensuring that every unaccompanied child in Scotland gets a dedicated guardian to support them, speak up for them and be by their side as they rebuild their lives.”


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