It is estimated that 8 million unaccompanied children are currently on the move worldwide, travelling alone without their families.
The experiences of persecution, violence, poverty and war in their home countries are followed by loss and separation, being exposed to exploitation, abuse and life-threatening journeys at the mercy of traffickers.
Those who make it to England are faced with the complex challenges of settling in a culture unknown to them, engaging in the complicated asylum process whilst learning a new language – all without the support of their parents.
Despite the resilience and survival skills of these young people, the trauma many of them suffer is deep and complex in nature.
The added uncertainty of their asylum claim outcome, and the risk of being removed to their home countries at the age of 18 can be very stressful. These insecurities affect many to such a degree that opportunities for personal and cultural integration are lost.
All of this puts the children at a very high risk of both physical and mental ill health. There is a danger too that their vulnerability mark them out as targets for political or religious groups and puts them at risk of further exploitation.
According to a Europol report in 2016, an estimated 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared in Europe during recent years. It is feared that the majority of them have fallen into the hands of criminal gangs and organised trafficking syndicates for sexual, labour and organ exploitation. Many are at risk of being radicalised.
Enthum House was inspired by the founders’ volunteering, campaigning and fundraising work for unaccompanied minors during 2015 – 2016 in the Calais Jungle, Northern France’s unofficial refugee camp, where they became aware of the lack of residential provisions for young people who were lucky enough to make it to safety in the UK.
The Enthum Foundation strongly supports the Lord Dubs Amendment and Kindertransport Our Turn Campaign and is part of Safe Passage’s National Campaign Group.