All children and young people should have a fair chance to pursue their dreams and reach their potential - regardless of their background. But too often young UK migrants face significant barriers to securing status as lawful residents - and even those with status struggle with laws that exclude them from education and other opportunities. Despite the Windrush scandal and the media focus on the government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ immigration policy, the situation facing the young people without permanent residency status we work with remains as hostile as ever. Arcane and often punitive rules combined with high fees for Home Office applications mean they face serious hardship.
In 2014 we set up the Let Us Learn project to give a voice to young migrants and campaign for their right to an education. With the help of Let us Learn activists we compiled a list of examples of people who were blocked from university because of student finance restrictions which we submitted as a strategic intervention in the case R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The project has since continued to advise young migrants on their eligibility for student finance support and campaign for migrants' rights. The project has broadened from its focus on education to fighting for the rights of young migrants across the board, in particular the impact of rising Home Office fees. In September 2019, the project spun out into an independent organisation called We Belong - one of the first young-migrant-led organisations of its kind in the UK. We published an evaluation of the process of setting up a new charity together with We Belong in February 2020.
We are also a member of the Refugee and Migrant Children's Consortium (RMCC), with whom we have successfully campaigned for the reinstatement of the right for unaccompanied migrant children to access legal aid support.