Child refugees

A refugee is someone who has been given the right to stay in the UK because they're unsafe in their home country. If you're a child refugee or asylum seeker, or if you know someone who could be, we can help.

Being a child refugee

There are lots of different reasons why people leave the country where they were born or grew up in, including: 

  • joining family abroad
  • escaping war or violence
  • finding safety
  • coming to study
  • getting married
  • playing competitive sport
  • being able to work
  • being able to look after their children.

Who are refugees and asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers are people who come to the UK because they are unsafe in their home country. 

Refugees are people who have had their asylum claims accepted by the UK government. They have the right to stay in the UK for up to 5 years. After that they can apply to stay in the UK indefinitely.

If you're a child refugee or asylum seeker applying for asylum in the UK can be a hard and scary process. But no matter what's happening we're here for you and can help you find ways to cope and feel better.

You have the right to

  • feel safe at home and outside
  • continue your education, including going to school or college
  • have your opinions heard
  • get support with your basic needs, like having somewhere to live, food and clothing.

3 facts about refugees

  • Refugees make up just 0.18% of the UK population
  • More than half of the world's refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan
  • Famous refugees include singer Rita Ora, Bob Marley and Albert Einstein

Applying for asylum

Applying for asylum can be a long process and it's normal to go to a lot of interviews and meetings.

You'll usually go to meetings with your family, or if you're applying on your own and you're under 18, you may be asked to go with your social worker or another responsible adult.

If you don't understand anything, remember it's always okay to ask questions. You can also ask for an interpretor to help you communicate at the meetings.

Organisations such as the British Red Cross provide support for young refugees.

And remember you can always get support from a Childline counsellor.

Ways to feel better

Applying for asylum can be tough, but there are things you can do to take care of yourself and feel better.

You can:

  • talk about your feelings. Although this can be scary it can help you feel more confident
  • take a break by going out into the fresh air for a walk or a jog
  • if you're going to a meeting, write down your questions so that you don't forget
  • don't be afraid to ask your parents or carers when you need something
  • write about how you're feeling, on paper or with our mood journal
  • join after school clubs and activities to make friends
  • talk to a Childline counsellor.

I wish for...

Wish tree

Use the Art Box to create a wish tree showing the things you wish for. Draw a picture of a tree, and write the things you want on the branches. You could also simply draw something you wish for and save it in your art box.

Create my wish tree

Living in the uk

Coping with difficult experiences

Difficult experiences can bring up all kinds of confusing feelings. These can be hard to deal with, and sometimes it can take a while to feel better.

You may be feeling affected by:

No matter how you're feeling, there are ways to get support. You could talk to an adult you trust and you can always talk to a Childline counsellor. We're here for you.

Being bullied or treated badly

Being bullied or made to feel bad because you come from a different country can be really hard. You might feel angry, confused or ashamed. You might also have arguements with your family and friends because of how you feel.

If someone bullies you because of where you're from, or because of your race or religion, it is always wrong. If this is happening to you, it's important to get help by talking to someone you trust or to Childline.

Our counsellors come from lots of different countries and they are here to support and listen to you.

Helping someone you know

There are lots of ways to support someone who has come to the UK as an asylum seeker. It can help to imagine what it would be like coming to a new country, and how you'd like people to treat you. 

Here are some things you can do:

listen - letting someone know you're there for them can help them to feel cared for 

ask about their background - refugees coming to the UK can find it hard to fit in. Sharing stories about the differences between countries shows interest and will help you get to know each other

do things you both enjoy - this can help them take their mind off things. Things can feel unfamilar in a new country and it can help to show someone the different things they can do.