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How can you support them?

Schools and colleges are often the first trusted institutions children, young people and families come into contact with and play a vital role ensuring that they get the support and welcome they need. This can extend to supporting their challenging journey through the UK’s immigration system.

In this toolkit, we share four times when college leaders, teachers and staff members can support children, young people and families through this experience.

  1. Asylum Claims

For children, young people and family still in the asylum process and waiting for a decision on their claim, a letter of support written by a known person can be submitted to the Home Office or court as a piece of evidence in their case.

When compiling a letter it is important to be clear about what the purpose of the letter is, provide clear facts and examples including clearly stating the nature of your relationship with the person. Try to avoid using emotional language. 

If in doubt about what to include and with the child/ young person or families’ permission, talk to their solicitor about what exactly would be helpful.

For more guidance on how to write a good supporting letter see:

Letters of Support: Do’s and Don’ts – Right to Remain

  1. Age Dispute 

We are sadly seeing more and more children being incorrectly assigned adult ages on arrival in the UK leaving them at risk of being excluded from accessing education, housed with adults and at risk of exploitation and severely damaging their mental health. 

Known contacts within school and college can provide evidence to support a child’s age dispute claim and ensure they get access to the support and services they are entitled to as children.

As with the letter of support for asylum claims, school and college staff can provide letters explaining why you think a young person is a child based on your observations and interactions. This may include comparing their behaviours, relationships, interests and experiences (giving specific examples) to peers of the same age – explaining that, from your professional expertise, you are confident they are typical/comparable with a young person of the stated age.

For guidance, see:


  1. Accommodation move-on

We know many colleges in our networks have been saddened by the sudden upheaval of children, young people and families as they are suddenly moved to a different area as part of their asylum accommodation provision.

Whilst it is not guaranteed that sending letters of support can help keep children, young people and their families within your local area and community, we have heard of some successful instances particularly when happening at key times in their education (i.e. close to GCSE or A-Level examinations). In these circumstances you can state from your professional expertise any concerns you have regarding the impact of the move on the person, including on their mental health and wellbeing. Again, the more specific you can be the stronger the supporting letter.

For guidance, see:

Template-Letter-of- Support-for-Student-Move-OnDownload

  1. Parents’ Immigration Claims

The threat and reality of detention and deportation are horrifically damaging for the thousands of people who are affected by these needlessly cruel practices, and the spouses, partners and – perhaps most importantly – children who love them.

Whilst there are many times someone could be at risk of immigration detention, often this happens on entry to the UK, when a visa or leave to remain has expired, or when an application has been refused and you don’t have the right to appeal that refusal. Shockingly, children can also be detained with their families.

Non-British citizens might also be deported if they do not have any leave to remain or if their asylum or immigration application has been refused. Currently, UK deportation law also requires that any person with nationality of another country, who serves a prison sentence of 12 months or longer, will automatically be targeted for deportation.

The law doesn’t care if they have children and families here. It doesn’t care if they’ve lived here since they were kids themselves. This law makes people into single parents, depriving children of a parent and leaving those left behind financially and socially disadvantaged, with no additional support from the Government.

Colleges can support families who are faced with the threat of a parent/carer being detained or deported again by sharing a letter of support. As always, this letter needs to clearly explain the college’s relationship with the child/parent. It can describe the parent/carer’s engagement with their child’s education and life, offering specific examples of how they support their child and can outline how your professional experience makes you confident of how their removal from the child’s life will negatively impact on the child.

Who do I contact?

Depending on the circumstances and the agency that is supporting a child/ young person/ family letters of support can be sent to their solicitor, social worker or even a local council officer or the refugee support organisation advocating