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Guardianship Scotland joins SYP as an Associate National Voluntary Organisation

Young people from the Guardianship Scotland project in the Scottish Parliament chamber
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Guardianship Scotland is a specialist statutory service providing Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTG) to all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, victims of trafficking and children vulnerable to trafficking who arrive in Scotland. The organisation supports young people living in 31 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland, with staff based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness. the service also supports young people through a number of ancillary projects such a befriending service, wellbeing project and participation.

Today, Guardianship Scotland has joined the Scottish Youth Parliament as an Associate National Voluntary Organisation, which ensures the views of young asylum seekers, as well as victims of trafficking, are heard as part of SYP’s work.

Young People’s Voices (YPV) is a young people-led group supported by Participation Officers at Guardianship. Together we talk about the issues that are most important to young people and seek out opportunities to speak to people in Scotland who have the power to improve things for them. We spoke to a young person who has been a member of YPV since April 2022 about his experience of Guardianship and of representing young people like him.

“When I was told that I had an appointment with my guardian and I had to go to Guardianship to meet her, I thought that I had to go to a place like a police station again to be questioned about why I’m here.

When I entered the Guardianship office my view quickly changed. I saw other young people from different backgrounds having friendly chats with adults. It was there when a lady came to me and introduced herself. We sat on a couch, had hot chocolate and snacks while talking through an interpreter together.

After introducing ourselves, she told me about what my rights are, who the people are in my new life, and how they can help me in different situations. In most of my important appointments, like meetings with my lawyer or the Home Office, she has been there to make sure I’m ok and to help me understand everything that I need to know.

My favourite thing I’ve done with Young People’s Voices is a presentation at a symposium at Queen Margaret University in November about Education and Migration. I spoke about what YPV is, what we have done and what our plans are for the future. I explained the issues and barriers faced by young people seeking asylum in Scotland. I really enjoyed making the presentation about a group that I am a part of. On the day, I felt like I was helping to strengthen the foundations of the group and raise the profile of a group that advocates for young people’s rights. It helped me to feel more confident about speaking in public.

My top priorities for unaccompanied young people like me is for everyone to have their basic needs met, to get their refugee status, and to have a good standard of education. When I arrived, the most important thing for me was to get food, clothes and somewhere to live. Once I had those things, I started to think about my refugee status; whether I would be allowed to stay in this country and how long it might take me to get my visa. Now I have refugee status, my focus is on my education and my career. It’s difficult for young people like me to advance in our education because most of us are restricted to studying English part-time. Many of us want to study English full-time or to study other subjects alongside ESOL.

It’s important for young people to have their voices heard so that everyone gets every single right that they are entitled to. Our group makes sure that people in power hear directly from us, so they can connect more deeply to real people’s feelings and stories.

I hope that the partnership between Guardianship and the Scottish Youth Parliament will give Scottish young people the chance to collaborate with more young people from different backgrounds and to understand the experiences of asylum-seeking children and young people living here. I would also love to see a young person from Guardianship elected as an MSYP to represent young people like me.”

Commenting on the new partnership, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Mollie McGoran MSYP, said:

‘The Scottish Youth Parliament is pleased to have Guardianship Scotland joining us as a new Associate National Voluntary Organisation. Through our work with the Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Children’s Charity, who both deliver the national project, we hope to be able to represent the views of some of the most vulnerable young people in Scotland throughout our work.’

Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Mollie McGoran MSYP

Catriona MacSween, Head of Guardianship Scotland added:

‘I am delighted that Guardianship Scotland are joining the Scottish Youth Parliament.  Our young people are passionate, intelligent and a motivated group of young people who have experienced a lot of personal challenges and adversity in their lives.   We welcome the opportunity for them to amplify the voices of refugee children and ensure that issues that are important to them are heard.’

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