Annual highlights

Together with Migrant Children was founded in late 2016 by Nick Watts and Jane Goldsmid. We became a registered charity in the summer of 2017. As a young charity, we are constantly growing and developing what we do, in response to the challenges impacting on migrant children and their families. We wanted to share with you some of the major highlights of our last year and some plans for the coming period.

The highlights

  • We secured major funding from BBC Children in Need which funded our first full time employee, Diane Peck.

  • We enjoyed immense support through the Cooperative community fund, which contributed towards casework, activities and social support to unaccompanied children and reunified families. We received far more support than we expected from this fund and it has meant we can do much more in this developing area of our work.

  • We continued outreach work at Hackney Migrant Centre and extended our outreach, starting at Greenwich Migrant Hub in early 2019.

  • We also developed some pop-up ADHOC advice sessions in places we were receiving spikes in referrals.

  • We have started to deliver training in safeguarding and specific issues for migrant children to organisations in the sector and other bodies.

  • We worked with some of our partners and families to develop a guide to accessing Section 17 (child in need) support. Providing a crucial resource in helping families in understanding their rights when approaching local authorities for support.

We also welcomed a couple of new trustees to our management committee bringing with them skills to address gaps that we have had previously.

Projects summary

We worked with around 360 children.

The majority of the families we worked with came through our outreach activities with others being referred by other charities, support organisations and other bodies.

We provided 46 consultations with professionals.

Breakdown of provision by type

Cases opened in the case management system by work undertaken. Cases are recorded by family.

We ran a summer programme for the families we work with.

Activities included our annual trip to London Zoo, trips to museums and activity days. This programme is aimed at children who have experienced destitution.

Work completed

In terms of work recorded, our most common forms of work undertaken were;

  • Advice sessions

  • Home visits

  • Section 17 advocacy

  • Sourcing immigration support and advice

  • Family support - Working with the practical and emotional needs of a family.

  • Assessment sessions

Outcomes

Immigration - Whilst we do not provide immigration services in house, we work with partners to resolve immigration matters. Preparatory work for immigration applications can include assessment work that we undertake, securing exceptional case funding for families to make applications and sourcing solicitors. We support family’s to gather evidence and work closely with immigration solicitors to progress applications as soon as possible.

Immigration status on case opening.

Immigration status on case closure

Immigration status is recorded as the principal status for each family. No status includes families who have overstayed a visa, undocumented and trafficked entrants. Limited leave includes limited leave to remain, refugee leave and discretionary time-limited leave. Indefinite covers all forms of leave that give someone permanent residence in the UK. Derivative rights include all recognised or unrecognised Zambrano, Chen or Texeira derivative rights with no other form of leave. 14 cases closed due to losing touch with families and thus their last status was recorded.

Housing outcomes - We provide direct advice in outreach sessions and longer term casework following those for people with NRPF and particularly, those without leave to remain in the UK. whose cases are complex and difficult to resolve.

Housing type on case opening

Housing type on case closure

Insecure accommodation is counted as hosting placements, street homelessness, squatting. By case closure, none of our families remained in insecure accommodation. Some remained staying with friends due to the accommodation being suitable and it being a choice. 14 cases closed due to losing touch with families so cases were recorded as being the last housing type known.

Casework achievements

  • We contributed evidence to 5 potential deportations. All 5 were halted and scrapped. These all involved children who were born in the United Kingdom.

  • We successful sought orders in the court on age assessment cases around unfairness in assessment practices and exclusion of crucial evidence. We also acted as litigation friend to young people in some of these cases.

  • We have worked with many families, with partner agencies, to challenge the condition of No Recourse to Public Funds on their leave.

  • We have also supported many families to access the Child Maintenance Service. The demand for this means that we now have a dedicated monthly drop-in in East London dedicated to providing advice and support accessing this.

  • We have worked uniquely supporting several pregnant women to access support via the Care Act pending birth of children and then transitioning them onto Children Act support, as well as meeting wider needs for mother and baby before and after birth.

  • We have worked with families for an average of 6 months, with our longest case being 22 months at point of closure in the year and our shortest being 9 weeks.

  • We provided long term support to families on receiving their leave to set them up in long term accommodation, access education and healthcare. This was particularly important for families with children with additional needs.

  • We successful challenged several provisions of Section 17 support where the provision was woefully unsuitable for children. This included children with physical disabilities left in dangerous provision.

  • We successfully challenged several wrongly charged NHS debts which led to them being written off. Most of these related to charging for testing or treatment of conditions excluded from the charging scheme.

  • We developed relationships with several individual grant providers to help us to alleviate financial hardship in families we work with.

What’s next for us

In the next period we want to build the resilience of our hardship fund further (more information available on our hardship fund review). We intend to do this through individual giving and making the hardship fund the main focus of individuals donors. Our hardship fund has proved a very small, but vital safety need for families we are working with.

Our BBC Children in Need funded project which focuses on children impacted by destitution will run through to 2021.

We are also planning to expand further our outreach work and bring another member of staff to the team in the coming 6-9 months (conditional on receiving funding to do this!) to further expand our capacity in this area, with follow up casework. We would also like to explore a second post in the coming year, focusing solely on the holistic, long term support that we offer to families.

Nick Watts