Social services have a duty to accommodate (take care of and house) every child in need in their area who has no parent to take care of them in the UK and is homeless (has nowhere to sleep and live). This means they will help you if you are in this situation. In the UK, a child is someone who is under 18.
They will allocate (give you) a special person called a social worker who will be responsible for your care.
One of the most important things your social worker – and Personal Advisor (PA) as you turn 18 – should do for you is to make sure you have claimed asylum and that your asylum claim moves forward and is up-to-date.
Your social worker will also find you a suitable (good) home with people to help you. These people are called foster carers, key workers or support workers. You will be given food and clothes in your new home too. If you are under 16, you will be in a foster placement. If you are aged between 16-18 you will be in semi-independent living (unless a foster placement would be in your best interests).
The foster carers or key workers (the people taking care of you at home) will register you with a dentist and a GP (a doctor) to make sure you are healthy or help you if you have a medical problem.
A council team called the Virtual School will also be there to help you with your education. They will support your foster carer, key worker, or social worker to enrol you into school and can help with the school admission process if there are any problems. They will make sure you are given all the support you need to do well in your education and make good progress in school or college.
All the support provided to you should be written in a document called your “care plan”. This will be based on an assessment of your needs (an understanding of all the support you need to live well).
When you turn 18 (or slightly earlier at 16 sometimes), another important person will replace your social worker and help you. They will write everything they plan to do to help you in a Pathway plan after agreeing with you.
You will have an interpreter to help you during your appointments. If you need help speaking up or telling your social worker or PA what you want, you can ask for an advocate – your social worker should give you an advocate’s phone number. This is a person who will help you voice your wishes and feelings and claim your rights.
If you are in Scotland, you should be referred to the Guardianship Service. Your guardian will give you information about the processes you will go through, will attend important interviews with you, and can advocate on your behalf. Your social worker should refer you to the scheme if you are in Scotland. Your foster worker can also refer you, or you can contact the organisation that runs the scheme yourself.
You do not have a lawyer
Don’t worry about finding a lawyer on your own. Your foster carer, key worker or social worker should help you choose a lawyer as soon as you arrive in their care ...
Don’t worry about finding a lawyer on your own. Your foster carer, key worker or social worker should help you choose a lawyer as soon as you arrive in their care. The choice of a good lawyer is very important. If you want to take part in the search for your lawyer, the Law Society website has a search engine for lawyers or the Refugee Council can also direct you to relevant contact lists. You can also check your local law centre or the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association website. Your lawyer must be regulated by the Law Society or registered with the OISC at the right level. In most cases, you will have an interpreter during your meetings with your lawyer.
You do not know how to choose a good lawyer
The choice of a good lawyer is very important. A lawyer is paid to work for you and do the best they can for you ...
The choice of a good lawyer is very important. A lawyer is paid to work for you and do the best they can for you. When you first meet them, agree how often you want to be updated (how often you want to be contacted), if it is by phone/email/letter, and ask them to use simple words to explain every stage of the asylum process. You should have an interpreter with you. If you are not happy with their work, ask your foster carer, key worker or social worker to help you explain to your lawyer why you are not happy. If this does not fix the problem, you have the right to change lawyers – although this may cause delays in your case. Look at this helpful website for more information.
You think social services do not believe your age as they are asking you a lot of questions
If social services are not sure about your age, they will carry out an age assessment- this means social services will be asked to determine your age through a series of questions ...
Once an age dispute starts (if the Home Office does not believe you are under 18), you should be referred to social services who should meet with you. If they are still not sure about your age, social services will carry out an age assessment- this means social services will be asked to determine your age through a series of questions about your life. They will also ask about your behaviour to people who know you. Social services do not have to do a full assessment just because the Home Office ask them to do so. They should only carry out an assessment if there is a reason to doubt your age. If there is no definitive evidence to say you are an adult, they should give you the benefit of the doubt (believe you are a child).
Social services assess you as an adult (they say you are an adult)
When telling you the result (outcome) of your age assessment, if they think you are an adult, social services should also tell you about your right to appeal (tell the court you do not agree) ...
When telling you the result (outcome) of your age assessment, if they think you are an adult, social services should also tell you about your right to appeal (tell the court you do not agree) their decision. You can get in touch with an advocate, the Refugee Council age dispute project, a community care lawyer or a support organisation near you for more information and representation. You may remain in adult accommodation (housing) throughout the appeal unless your lawyer asks the court and the court agrees you should be looked after as a child (go back to social services) until a decision is made on your age by the court. If you are then recognised as a child, you will return to the care of Social services.
You have been recognised as a child by social services but your ARC (your application registration card that shows you have claimed asylum, that you can use as a form of ID) still shows that you are being age assessed
Your lawyer should contact the relevant department at the Home Office to have the information on your card updated...
To avoid confusion and difficulty in accessing services (college or health services, for example), your lawyer should contact the relevant department at the Home Office to have the information on your ARC card updated. Your lawyer should ensure the correct information is on the card and on any other official documentation.
You are not happy with the way social services care for you. For example, you want to move home
There are times when things don't go too well and you may not be happy about the way you are cared for. It is really important you speak up when this happens ...
There are times when things don’t go too well and you may not be happy about the way you are cared for. It is really important you speak up when this happens – talk to your social worker first. If your social worker does not help you or you are worried about talking to your social worker, you have the right to have an advocate – this is a person who will help you talk to your social worker and claim your rights. Your social worker should give you your advocate’s number. You can also talk to your IRO. Your IRO is your Independent Reviewing Officer. They are the person who checks that all the decisions made about your care and written down in your care plan are in your best interest. They will do this during an initial meeting four weeks after you get into care and then three months later and 6-monthly thereafter. Any decision about a move should be approved by your IRO. Make sure you have contact details for your IRO. Your advocate can also help you contact your IRO.
You are still waiting to go to school/college and you have been waiting for a long time
If you are in year 11 and under, the Virtual School advisory teacher (the people in social services who are responsible for your education) will help find you a school place within 20 days...
If you are in year 11 and under, the advisory teachers at the virtual school (the people in social services who are responsible for your education) will help your social worker or foster carer look for a school place within 20 days. While you are waiting for a school place, your Virtual School advisory teachers may be able to arrange English tuition (home lessons with a private tutor). If you are over year 11 (older than 16 years old), you should go to college (training or employment, if eligible) but there is no timeframe for this. Ask your foster carer or key worker to contact the Virtual school to see how they can help with your education while waiting- there may be some local organisations providing ESOL (English) classes in your area. Read more about Further Education and Higher Education.
You want to work but you are told you need to be in school
Most young people in the UK go to compulsory (this means you have no choice/ you have to do this) school until they are 16 (until they finish year 11)...
Most young people in the UK go to compulsory (this means you have no choice/ you have to do this) school until they are 16 (until they finish year 11). After this, you still need to be either in education, training or employment until the age of 18. This means you can work at the end of year 11 after 16. Anyone with refugee status, indefinite leave to remain, humanitarian protection, limited leave to remain, discretionary leave or UASC leave has the right to work in the UK and does not need to apply for permission to work. There are no restrictions on the type of work they can do while they hold this status. Your status and permission to work will most likely be written on your ARC card or BRP card. A BRP card is a biometric residence permit that confirms your identity, your right to study or work in the UK and your right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to. You are given this if you are granted certain forms of immigration status. If you do not have the right to work, you will need to stay in education or undertake some (unpaid) training or enrol on a course. Read more about Further Education and Higher Education. Read about funding information here.
You do not have permission to work but still want to work or are currently working
Unfortunately, if you work without permission to do so, you will be committing an offence (immigration and criminal). There may be other options you can explore in the meantime ...
Unfortunately, if you work without permission to do so, you will be committing an offence (immigration and criminal). Although this is understandably frustrating, there may be other options you can explore in the meantime. You could take part in a campaign asking the Home Office to lift the ban on work for asylum seekers . You can also look for short-term work experience or volunteering to improve your CV. Those must be unpaid opportunities but they will all help you get ready for work and gain useful skills for life. Volunteering is doing work that could not have been done by hiring a paid worker on a regular basis.
You were told you needed a National Insurance Number to be able to work. You do not know how to apply
If you are over 16 and want to work, you will need a National Insurance Number to work or claim benefits. It is your social worker’s role to apply for this if you are under 16...
If you are over 16 and want to work, you will need a National Insurance Number to work or claim benefits. If you want to apply for benefits, your social worker, PA (Personal Advisor in the leaving care team) or key worker can support you to fill out the relevant forms. If you want to check your benefits entitlements you can also check this website. It is your social worker’s role to apply for this if you are under 16. Your social worker will apply for this number when you are 15 years old and nine months. If you are 16 or over, the Home Office would have claimed for you at the start at the time of the substantive (big) interview. The number should be on your decision letter. If this is not the case, ask your lawyer to contact the Home Office.
You are going to be 18 soon. You are worried because you were told your social worker would stop helping you
Don’t worry, a new person called a PA (Personal Advisor) will replace your social worker and will be there to support you. Your PA will help you plan for your future and give you advice...
Although most PAs start helping you at 18, you can sometimes meet them as early as 14 or 16 years old.
Make sure your PA follows up closely the progress of your asylum claim and explains the level of support you can receive depending on the outcome (result).
Your PA will write updates about asylum claim, your housing and financial situation as well as your educational goals in your pathway plan. They will also write how they are going to support you with all these issues in the pathway plan (see Your Plans in People Who Can Help section). Find out more about your PA in People Who Can Help section.
You are turning 18 and are still waiting to be invited to your Substantive (Big) Interview (or you haven’t had an answer to your initial claim or appeal). You are told you cannot apply for benefits (No Recourse to Public Funds- NRPF) and you are worried about the support you will receive
If you have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), please check a document called the Local Offer from your local authority (social services) which tells you what support to expect...
Unless you had UASC leave and were able to extend this leave in time, you will have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) when you become a care leaver (this is the name given to people who are over 18 and have been in care for some time).
NRPF means you will not be able to apply for certain benefits– including housing benefits or job seekers’ allowance.
As a care leaver, you should still get the same level of support (help) from social services as any other care leavers with housing, education and your finances while your asylum claim is still pending (while you are waiting for your interview or an answer to your claim, your appeal or judicial review).
However, the quality of housing and other services given to young people who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) varies depending on the local authority (social services). This support also varies with age and whether you are on an agreed plan of education or training.
Please check your local authority local offer and talk to an advocate if you need advice.
If you want to find out more about your rights as a care leaver, please click here.
You can find out more information on NRPF here.
You are turning 21 and you are still waiting for an answer to your asylum claim (outstanding/open claim). You are told social services support stops at 21
Please talk to an advocate or your lawyer as soon as possible if social services tell you they will stop support. You can also find out more on asylum support in the Right to Remain Toolkit...
Unless you are in a planned course of education and training, social services may tell you they have no duty to support you any longer when you turn 21.
This means they may stop giving you housing or money for food and clothing and possibly refer you to the Home Office for asylum accommodation and support (NASS- National Asylum Support Service). You can talk to an advocate if this happens.
Although it may not be for housing or money, you can still ask for a Personal Advisor (PA) to help you if you are struggling with some issues until you are 25. This will be written in your Pathway Plan (see Your Plan in People Who can Help section).
If you are on an agreed plan of education and training until 25, even with an outstanding/open claim (still waiting for an answer to a claim or an appeal or have a fresh claim), social services should continue helping you.
Find out more about the type of support you may get in the Right to Remain Toolkit.