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‘She endures with me’: An evaluation of the Scottish Guardianship Service Pilot

Forced migration is a fact of life for many of the world’s children. In 2011, there were 35.4 million people ‘of concern’ according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In the same year, 46% of refugees and 34% of asylum seekers worldwide were under 18 years of age. A small proportion of refugee children worldwide make it to Europe and the North Americas. For example, 17,700 asylum applications by separated children were lodged in 69 countries in 2011, and Europe received 13,300 of these applications, mostly in Sweden and Germany. In the UK, 1,300 such children claimed asylum in that year (UNHCR, 2012).

There is evidence that children and young people seeking asylum experience multiple separations, and persistently have to manage their complex lives in solitary ways when engaging with asylum and welfare services (Ni Raghallaigh and Gilligan, 2010; Crawley 2010, 2011; Children’s Society 2012; Kohli 2007, 2011; Sirriyeh 2010, 2013). Their circumstances are described in relation to danger, intrepid and secretive journeys, and rootlessness. Sometimes, they are said to be reluctant to disclose information about what has happened to them, telling their stories with care. Guardianship has been considered as a way forward in supporting them as their claims for protection and the credibility of what they say are assessed in the context of asylum and welfare.