News and Debate

23 June 2021
Our director Sheila Melzak will speak at the upcoming webinar
"Proposals for a Model Court for Migrant Children"
organized by First Rights - Equal Justice for Migrant Children and Routes (University of Exeter). This event will convene experts to finalize the proposals by Equal Justice for Migrant Children for a fairer judicial process inclusive of children's well-being and welfare at every stage. You can register here to follow this event - June 23, 5pm-7:15pm.

24 May 2021

The Baobab Centre today joins the Together With Refugees campaign, a coalition of UK human rights associations that are united in calling for a fairer, more humane, and more welcoming asylum system.
The UK asylum system is broken. The government needs to scrap its current plans and  honor its obligations under the 1951 Refugee convention to offer protection and refuge to those fleeing traumatic, life-threatening violence. It needs to start listening to the stories of those who have reached the UK, by any means, in order to find hope and rebuild their lives.
The Baobab Centre will use the opportunity of the planned debate on the Government's proposals to make sure the voices of Baobab's young refugees and asylum seekers are heard, and their interests defended.

22 May 2021
Why do people leave home for perilous journeys to safety, and why do they bring their children along? The Guardian has asked some of the people rescued by NGO Sea-Eye in the Meditarrenean, one of the four NGOs currently saving lives between Libya and Italy.

13 May 2021
Author Daniel Trilling (latest book: Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe, 2018) publishes a detailed, if grim, investigation into what is broken at the Home Office: "Cruel, paranoid, failing: inside the Home Office", in today's Guardian -- with even more testimonies of Home Office dysfunctions in the letter section.

12 May 2021
10 civil society organisations across Europe publish a report today documenting no fewer than 2,162 cases of border pushbacks across Europe and within European countries between January and April 2021 only. Following on recent investigation by The Guardian that some 40,000 asylum seekers had been illegally refouled during the pandemic from EU borders, this is more worrying evidence that Western countries are failing to uphold their responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Conventions to protect the rights of asylum seekers to find refuge. The full report can be read here, and a short article on the report from The Guardian can be accessed here.

21 April 2021
A Guardian/Lost in Europe investigation has found that more than 18,000 unaccompanied child migrants have gone missing in Europe between January 2018 and December 2020 - findings that "raise serious questions about the extent European countries are able or willing to protect unaccompanied child migrants".
Read more here.

March 2021
The Baobab Centre joins other organisations fighting for the defense of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK to express its strong opposition to the changes to the UK asylum system as proposed by the current Home Secretary. 
Our full statement:


February 2021

Visit "My World"
A Baobab Centre exhibition of photographs of daily life, from all our community members

June 2020
Baobab stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Read our community statement:



30 June 2020

The Baobab Centre joins the National Children's Bureau and 152 other organisations in calling on the Prime Minister to make children a priority in the government's response to the coronavirus crisis.


Find out more at https://www.ncb.org.uk/childrenattheheartofrecovery



April 2019
The Baobab Center joins The Children's Society, ECPAT UK and 40 others to appeal to Home Secretary
Read this
letter_to_home_secretary_-_independent_guardians.pdf
Press Release from The Children's Society and ECPAT UK:
The Children’s Society and ECPAT UK and more than 40 others join forces to appeal to Home Secretary.
The Children’s Society, Every Child Protected against Trafficking (ECPAT UK) and 43 others have written a letter to Sajid Javid urging him to do more to help all separated and trafficked children.
Signatories include UNICEF UK, NSPCC, the Refugee Council, Action for Children and the International Organization for Migration. The organisations have joined forces to call on the Home Secretary to introduce independent legal guardians to support all separated and trafficked children and not just those suspected as victims of modern slavery. It follows the publication of the third interim report on child trafficking advocates, as part of the review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The review is considering what support is available to young victims of modern slavery, among other provisions. While the group welcomes many of the recommendations, they contend that the report has missed an opportunity to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our society; those in the UK on their own, separated from their families, with no one acting in their best interests.
Many of the organisations who signed the letter have campaigned for the introduction of independent legal guardians; more than 27,000 public supporters recently backed ECPAT UK’s online campaign.
Similar schemes already exist in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where guardianship is available to all unaccompanied children. The respective schemes are provided through each country’s modern slavery legislation, in recognition of its role in identifying and preventing child trafficking. The ongoing review of the Modern Slavery Act provides a crucial opportunity to make sure this form of vital protection is available for separated children in England and Wales too.
Nick Roseveare MBE, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society said: “We know a significant number of separated children report exploitation on their journeys and face increased risks of exploitation, abuse, mental health crisis, suicide and other safeguarding concerns. They are also left with no one to help them navigate complex immigration and asylum processes, ensuring they get into school quickly, or can access support they so often desperately need. Many of them have had to flee their home country due to violence and war, they will have experienced things no child should ever have to. When they arrive in England and Wales, they have no one to act in their best interests and are left to make life-changing, difficult decisions by themselves”
As a group we want better outcomes for all separated children including those who have been trafficked. We are confident guardians would provide the help they need, just as they do in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Collectively, we are urging the Home Secretary to consider introducing this vital protection for children in England and Wales and demonstrate that the Government really does take children’s welfare seriously.”
Every Child Protected against Trafficking (ECPAT UK) is co-leading this action. ECPAT UK’s chief executive, Katherine Mulhern, said:
“While there are positive recommendations emerging from this review, it is extremely disappointing that this issue has been so narrowly viewed.
“Those who work directly with unaccompanied, separated and trafficked children know that guardianship leads to improved identification of victims of trafficking, and the ability to prevent exploitation in the future. Yet in England and Wales there is still no comprehensive guardianship service available to them.
“Our campaigns around this issue have huge public support and demonstrate the public care about the lives of these particularly vulnerable children. That is why so many of us are calling on the Home Secretary to urgently make this happen.”

January 2019
New Article Published on the Journal of Child Psychotherapy - authored by Ferelyth Watt, Akashadevi and Sheila Melzak from the Baobab Centre
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0075417X.2018.1556316?journalCode=rjcp20 
In Winnicott’s idea of the child developing in the context of their family, community and the wider world – assuming good enough parenting – the child has experiences that lead to basic trust. It is here that playing can take place. From this starting point, we want to demonstrate how the different levels of our specific and unique ways of working with and on behalf of young unaccompanied refugees often add up to more than the sum of their parts. Through working flexibly and creatively on the boundary between the ever-shifting internal and external worlds of these multiply traumatised young people, we try to enable them to rediscover the sense of basic trust needed for them to move into adulthood with the freedom and responsibility that step entails.

December 2017
New Home Office and Department of Education safeguarding strategy for asylum-seeking and refugee children​
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-of-unaccompanied-and-trafficked-children 
This document is part of a new safeguarding document for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and  refugee children in the UK. It highlights the importance of access to legal representation and legal advice for children.

January 2017
Updated Home Office guidance on permission to work and volunteer for asylum seekers is now available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/583192/Permission-to-work-v7.pdf

November 2016
Alarming number of trafficked young people going missing from care
Trafficked and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are going missing from UK care at an “alarmingly high” rate, leading charities ECPAT UK and Missing People say in their report, 'Heading Back to Harm' (Nov 2016) available at: http://www.ecpat.org.uk/content/reports