More than 14,000 separated migrant children applied for asylum in the EU in 2019. Without parents or adult caregivers accompanying them, their connections to support networks, social and legal services, education and peers are vital. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these networks and services poses serious risks for young people’s ability to thrive, socially and educationally. Through our UK partners, CoramBAAF, and through our international partners, Terre des Hommes, we hope findings from the Scotland study will be disseminated to others who work with separated migrant children.
This project is rooted in our previous work on separated migrant children living in Scotland, and follows up on these young people’s wellbeing at a time when their connectivity to networks, services and peers is disrupted by the pandemic. For separated migrant children, COVID-19 is likely to be only one of many crises they have faced: however, for services they rely on, COVID-19 represents the first crisis of this scale. This project aims to identify how these services have adapted to meet young people’s needs and disseminate good practice throughout the UK and internationally.
Our interdisciplinary research team has developed a mixed methods design. It combines online interviews with children, their case workers and foster carers, Guardians, social workers, legal representatives, and English teachers. We also arranged an arts-based intervention which gives separated migrant children the opportunity to articulate their feelings about this and other crises, while developing English language skills. The intervention workshops are run by our project partner The Hands Up Project and involve artists, musicians, poets, and other creative professionals to assist young people in creating their own poem, music, rap or story that reflects their experience of the pandemic. The study is conducted in partnership with the Scottish Guardianship service and Terre des Hommes.
We plan to publish briefing and working papers that would inform best practice through the policy recommendations based on our findings. We hope that on-going collaboration with UK partners will build resources to support work with separated migrant children during the current and future crises in the UK and beyond.
This project started in Nov 2020 and will run until the end of Dec 2021. The arts-based intervention workshops are planned for the end of February and will be carried out for the next 6 – 8 weeks. Please follow our blog for updates and workshop artifacts, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news about webinars and dissemination events.