Coventry Law Centre

Young migrant rights

“There exists in Britain a new and growing excluded class of people, who are afraid or unable to return to their countries of origin”

 

Refugee Action (2006: 2)

Project results and achievements

What we found

The young people we work with are often on the margins of society and do not traditionally engage with services or involve themselves in community activities. They are often isolated and invisible. Legal advice to assist them in regularising their immigration status provides security and confidence to begin to engage in the wider community. Our project has build up a network of community connectors who are individuals (paid or volunteer) and organisations who are established in the community and come across young undocumented migrants through their work. These people are able to identify areas of vulnerability for the young people and the project has worked to help them provide services and support.

These connectors are provided with training from Grapevine on how to form networks of support and link young people into services and social support. As a result we have made some informal links with trusted people in communities and have identified certain organisations as being key in the lives of young migrants in the city. For example Jigsaw youth club, the Refugee and Migrant Centre, St Peters Centre breakfast club and Coventry Friends. The connectors and the young people have also organised sporting and social events. This work has resulted in young people meeting other young people who are already settled into communities and who can assist them in forming links and friendships to enable them to become better integrated into community life.

Many of the young people we have worked with had no plans regarding education or employment because of their immigration status. After being involved in the project, they are able to make plans for their futures and contribute to the communities in which they live. Several have decided to become connectors themselves - which will ensure that the project leaves a legacy within Coventry long after the project ends.

Achievements

The project has resulted in building lasting community networks of support for these young people.

In less than two years we have taken on 89 specialist cases for young people and advised 160 more. We are already getting results. More than 20 young people have had their status regularized. Many other cases are still ongoing due to Home Office backlogs - it can be a long and arduous process. Through our unique partnership and the connecting work facilitated by Grapevine our success is not just measured in legal outcomes. It can also be measured by the increased ability of our young people to live their life positively as part of their communities, often enabling them to support other young people in need. They are able to access relevant services like health and education and integrate into the life of the City.

The project has actively "recruited" both individuals and organisations (such as Foleshill Womens Training and Community Wardens) as connectors. Often these organisations come across young people with irregular status and are now able to refer them into the project. We have trained staff at these organisations to be better equipt in connecting with young migrants and provided legal awareness training. This enables them to "myth bust" perceptions around young undocumented migrants. We also operate drop in sessions with other local voluntary organisations including St Peter’s and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.

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