UK

Separated children to be offered therapeutic support

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The Refugee Council is to deliver a new therapeutic service to unaccompanied children in order to help improve their mental health.

The new service, funded by the Department of Education, will enable us to run both therapy and psycho-educational groups for separated children. Our Children’s Section has been advising unaccompanied children since 1994, though previously we have only had funding to offer therapeutic services to adults.

An estimated 1,861 unaccompanied children arrived in the United Kingdom in 2014. These children have been separated from their families and arrive in the UK alone, bewildered and frightened. Upon arrival, children are cared for by foster parents and social services.

Unaccompanied children are often at real risk of suffering from poor mental health and post-traumatic stress due to both their experiences in their home countries and the arduous and dangerous journey they are forced to take in order to reach safety.

Many of the children we work with have witnessed the death of family members or been abused themselves.

Due to begin this spring, our new service will offer therapy to separated children, train professionals who work with children and secure access to external agencies for specialist interventions.