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As Children’s Commissioner, I have a duty to promote and protect the rights of every child. I also have a particular duty, and feel a profound responsibility, towards children who are not living with their own families. This includes the children who arrive here unaccompanied, fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.  

These children have been through unimaginable circumstances, often facing abuse and exploitation from traffickers or the people smugglers who bring them here. For every child who arrives here via these perilous journeys, our first response should be one of love, care and compassion from day one. 

The Big Ambition heard from a small number of children who identified themselves to be unaccompanied children, and some children indicated they were living in temporary asylum accommodation, including hotels. The Commissioner also heard from other children who told the office they wanted refugee children to feel welcome and accepted and feel a sense of belonging.  

My young Ambassadors have been sharing their views on each of the themes from The Big Ambition, continuing with unaccompanied children seeking asylum:  


As a child who was forced to leave Ukraine because of the war and come to England, I know how children feel when they are in a new environment. I think that it is important for teachers and children who have refugees from different countries in their classroom not to be afraid to talk to us, to be interested in our lives and to help us understand British culture.  

When I came to my English school, many teachers and children did not know how to deal with us, and we felt a little bit like outsiders. It was only a few months after I started school that I understood what GCSEs were and what they were for.  

It is very difficult to adopt to a new mentality of language and habits, but it is also very difficult to live with the idea that as soon as my visa expires, I will have to go back. Many children do not have this option because their homes have been destroyed or occupied.  

It’s very difficult to make plans for the future when you don’t know what might happen next year to you and your family, where you will be and whether everything will be okay. I think it is very important for these children to know that they will be able to carry on with their education while they are in the UK, so they have a little stability. Knowing that you are welcome here makes everything much easier.  


All children should be entitled to the same human rights, and this shouldn’t change when we are talking about asylum seeking children. Escaping persecution or war is not a crime, and yet these children can struggle to access the vital services they need when they come to the UK.   

The UN Convention on the Rights of Child states that children have the right to education. Education will allow these children to gain vital skills, find their passions or interests, as well as prepare them for their futures. This passion for learning was evident in responses to The Big Ambition, with one 18-year-old boy saying: ‘I want to learn English and become a teacher’.  

Asylum seeking children have the same dreams and ambitions as many other children across the UK. Looking beyond the political debates around asylum seeking children we must not forget the fundamental rights of children.  

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