Things can sometimes be difficult when you arrive in a new country. You don’t know the language, everything seems so different. Don’t worry! There will be plenty of people to help you along the way and you will be making new friends in no time.
Please turn the cards below and meet all the people who will help you on your journey to settlement. You will also find a very important card about your plans with social services and another one about your education. Please make sure you read those cards too.
All children – that is anyone who is under 18 – are required to go to school. There, you will learn many subjects, including English. It is really important to learn English. It will help you progress with your education and feel more confident. Your foster carer will enrol you into school as soon as you arrive. If they can’t find you a place, your foster carer can contact your advisory teacher for help with this or ask them to provide tuition at home for a bit. If you are in year 11 or under (up to 16 years old), your advisory teacher will help your foster carer find you a place within 20 days. In addition to going to school, ask your advisory teacher to check for extra classes in English to help you make quicker progress.
If you are a bit older than a year 11, you will be enrolled in college where you will be placed in ESOL classes and learn English. Before you can choose a career of your choice (study something you want), you will need to complete all your levels of ESOL- Pre-entry (for those who might never have attended school before), Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3- in four areas:
The quicker you complete all your levels, the quicker you can progress onto a career of your choice.
If you are over 19 by the time you move onto vocational training (learning a trade/ a skilled job at college), you need to check your funding options. Read more here.
If you are an asylum seeker and want to go to university, there might be bursaries (payments made to enable you to access education) and grants you can apply for. For bursaries, please check:
If you have discretionary leave to remain, you might be entitled to help from Student Finance England.
For further advice, please contact:
You will have two main plans while you are in the care of social services and in receipt of leaving care support. Those plans are very important as they describe how social services are going to look after you.
The first plan is your care plan which is written when you first arrive in care. It is based on an assessment of your needs. This plan will include a plan for your education called a “PEP” (personal education plan) and a Health plan too. The PEP will explain how social services and your advisory teacher are going to help you do well at school and prepare for your career, go to college or university. Your health plan will show social services will help you keep healthy as soon as you arrive in the UK and how they will keep you healthy or take care of you if you are sick or are feeling sad or cannot sleep well.
The second plan, the pathway plan, will first be written from the time you turn 16. It is a plan that looks to meet your needs as you grow and move towards independent living (living on your own).
Both plans will make sure that all your needs, including immigration, heath, education, accommodation and financial needs are provided for. They will be revised frequently (checked and changed many times with your agreement) to reflect your changing needs.
In your case, the immigration/identity section should include the key steps towards resolving your claim and immigration status through a process called triple planning. This means your social worker should outline the three main possible outcomes of your claim for asylum and how social services will help you while you are going through the asylum process. Through triple planning, you will have three detailed options in your pathway plan:
You should always keep a copy of your plans and have them reviewed regularly. You can also request a review of your plan before the agreed time if your circumstances suddenly change or if you are not happy with certain aspects of your plan.
An advocate can help you if you do not agree with a decision in your plan or need help to talk about something. Both plans should be given to you in a format that is easy to understand and, if possible, in your language.
There are lots of community organisations that could offer specific support in your area. This could be about finding help and advice for your asylum case, knowing your rights, improving your education- or simply about making new friends, having fun, going on trips and learning new skills.
Enter a key word or your area on this MiCLU link to find what you are looking for.
You can also contact your local CVS which will give you a list of hundreds (thousands) of diverse services and activities offered by local community organisations. Simply google the “name of your area” and CVS.
Your advisory teacher is someone from the local authority (the council) who looks after your education while you are in school or college. They make sure your school/college understand how to help you make progress and achieve your goals in education. For instance, they can organise some additional English classes for you (up to year 11). When you are post 16 (after you have completed year 11) and in college, they may not always be able to organise extra English classes for you but they can advise you about your studies, new courses or work experience and find other type of support for you with the voluntary sector.
An advocate’s role is to help and support you express your wishes and feelings. They will make sure you are involved in all decisions about your life and that your voice is heard and taken into account. Advocates also help you speak out when things go wrong. They make sure you know your rights and help you to get the support you need from social services by speaking to your social worker on your behalf, by attending your review meetings with you or by writing complaints. Your advocate works for you and only does what you ask them to do. Your advocate cannot act without your permission.
This is the person who will be there to support you if you have an age assessment. They will support you during the age assessment meetings by making sure you are treated well and will look after your welfare (make sure you are feeling well during the meeting and that you are able to take breaks when you need to). Sometimes your social worker will arrange your appropriate adult. They should be independent (not connected to) from social services and they should be someone that you trust. They should know what their role is and not be afraid to speak up for you if something is wrong during the age assessment.
Sometimes, people do not feel well because their bodies have been hurt or are sick, and other times, they do not feel so well inside. It also happens that you do not feel too well in both your body and mind (feelings and emotions). For example, you may have problems sleeping or headaches or tummy pains and you do not know why. It might be because you are very worried or stressed. If this happens, a counsellor can help you by listening to you or giving you ideas to cope (manage) with these feelings and pains. A counsellor is a person who helps you find ways to cope (carry on) when you feel sad or anxious, when you are worried about something.
In the UK, you will often hear the word GP instead of doctor. This is the doctor you can see when you first arrive and whenever you feel unwell or sick or are worried about something. It is all free. Your foster carer or key worker will register you with a GP as soon as you arrive. You will also have a first meeting with a special GP on arrival- just to check if you’ve been hurt during your journey to the UK or have all your injections (vaccinations). It’s really important you go on this first visit (it’s called an Initial Health Assessment) because it is your chance to get some help with anything that is hurting, making you feel worried or in pain.
DT / DMS
If you need any support while you are in school or at college, you can ask your DT or DMS/DSM for help. Your DT is your Designated Teacher in your school and the DMS is the Designated Safeguarding Manager or Designated Manager for Safeguarding if you are in college. They are in charge of making sure your educational needs are met, that you are supported to do your best and that your voice is heard in school or college.
If you find it hard to learn at school or are not making enough progress, you can ask to speak to an Educational Psychologist or ask your foster carer to arrange for a meeting with an Educational Psychologist or SENCO. We all learn differently and these are the people who can help your school understand your learning style (the best way for you to learn) so you can reach your educational goals.
Once social services accept to take care of you, they will usually look for a family for you. The family you will live with is called your foster family and the parents are the foster parents or foster carers. In many cases, your foster carers will be the ones in charge of looking for your lawyer and taking you to your appointments with the lawyers, to the Home Office but also to the doctor, school and social services review meetings. They are responsible for your care on a day-to-day basis.
Your IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer) makes sure your care plan is good and that decisions made about your care are for your best. If you disagree with a decision and think it is not the best for you, please tell your IRO. You can contact them directly- ask your social worker for their number- or you can also see them during your review (CLA review) meeting where you all discuss the progress of your care plan and any problems you may have.
If you are not placed with a family, you will be housed in a semi-independent placement (a shared house with other young people) where a key worker will be there to help with day to day living. This can be the case with young people who are over 16.
In the UK, the term lawyer can be used for anyone qualified to give legal advice, which could include a caseworker, solicitor or barrister. They have to be registered with a regulated body to be able to practice. Your lawyer will help you prepare your statement of evidence (the letter that explains why you want to claim asylum) and submit your claim and any permitted appeals. You will see your lawyer many times when you put together your statement of evidence and prepare for your big interview. They will also represent you (be present and defend your case) during the big interview at the Home Office. If there is a court appeal, your lawyer will usually instruct another lawyer – a barrister – to represent you.
Personal Advisor (PA)
Once you turn 16, your social worker is replaced by a Personal Advisor. Sometimes, you are introduced to your PA at 16 but keep working with your social worker until you are 18. Your PA can support you to achieve your plan for the future until you are 25. Your plan will now be called a Pathway Plan. Your PA will review this plan with you regularly and ensure you achieve what is in the plan. This plan should tell you what has been done and what will be done to support you with your asylum claim. Your PA will also advise you on education, housing, money matters – everything you need to know so you can live well on your own. In Scotland, the Personal Advisor is called a Throughcare Social Worker. You normally work with them from when you are 18 years old.
The Refugee Council
The Refugee Council provides services to separated children through the Children’s Advice Project. A number of advisers work across the country to support separated children. The Refugee Council should be notified whenever an asylum claim is submitted. Their primary role is to assist you in accessing quality legal representation and guide you through the complexities of the asylum procedures, as well as building a support network for you.
A Responsible Adult should be present during your substantive (big) interview. It is someone you trust – maybe your social worker, foster carer, key worker or support worker or sometimes someone for a voluntary sector organisation arranged by your lawyer. The role of the Responsible Adult is mostly to ensure that you understand the interview process and are well treated during the interview. If you are tired or thirsty or upset from all the questions, your Responsible Adult will ask for breaks during the interview. They will also intervene and help you if they feel the interviewer is being too harsh and making you sad. You can ask your Responsible Adult for help at any time during the interview is you are not feeling well or feel angry or sad.
This is one of the first people you will meet. A social worker is a person who works for a local authority/council department called social services. Their role is to make sure children – anyone who is under 18 in the UK – are well taken care of when they have nowhere to live and their parents are not present and cannot take care of them. This means your social worker will make sure you have a place to live, a family or people to take care of you daily and give you food and clothing, that you go to school or college, and that you see a doctor or dentist when you first arrive. They will also ensure you have a lawyer for your asylum claim. Your social worker will write all of this in a document called a care plan and should always ask you for your opinion about every part of your plan. It is really important you talk to them and tell them all you need. If you are under 16 when you go to the Home Office, a social worker, key worker or support worker will also be present during your welfare interview and when your photo and fingerprints are taken. Your social worker should visit you at least every six weeks and attend all your Home Office interviews.
Virtual School Head
Virtual School Heads are in charge of promoting the educational achievement of all the children looked after (in care) by the local authority they work for. This means they will do everything they can to get you the support you need to do well in school.