At GMIAU, we provide advice and representation to young people who have had their ages disputed either by the Home Office or local authorities. These young people are on their own in the UK, seeking asylum. Some are referred to us whilst still in local authority care, some have been dispersed into adult accommodation, some have been left street homeless and destitute or detained in immigration removal centres. All are confused about why they have had their ages disbelieved.

Young People's Guide to Age Assessments

Young people from our All4One youth group have found it reassuring to be able to talk to others who have gone through the age assessment process. It is wonderful to see young people helping other young people. But we realised not everyone has access to such support, particularly those who have been dispersed into adult accommodation without spending any time in local authority care and who are therefore less likely to come into contact with other young people.

There began the idea of supporting young people to put together their own resource for other young people who might not find support elsewhere.

With help from staff at GMIAU and the pro bono support of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, nine young people from the All4One group put together this guide which was launched in September 2020.

Six Things: Age Assessments

The young people involved were also very keen for the adults and various professionals involved in the age assessment process to understand what it is like for them, how it makes them feel to be disbelieved and, if an age assessment has to happen, how it can be done better. This led to the development of three information sheets with the #SixThings young people want social workers, appropriate adults and interpreters to know about the age assessment process.

Above all, young people wanted the adults involved to understand just how important their role is as well as how significant (and upsetting) it is for young people to have their ages disbelieved.

Young people from our All4One youth group speak about their experiences of the age assessment process in these voice recordings.

Halima, a foster carer, Burhan, an interpreter, Vijay, a barrister, Maria, a social worker at GMIAU and Kathleen, who has acted as an appropriate adult, share their perspectives on the age assessment process.

Previous work on Age Assessments

Local Authority Responsibilities

Some of the young people who contact us have been age assessed as an adult and dispersed in adult asylum accommodation in the North West. When we support them in challenging the decision on their age we are often faced with a conflict as to which local authority is most appropriate to do the re-assessment – the original local authority or the local authority where they now live.

Struck by the ambiguity over what happens in these circumstances, and the absence of young people’s voices in decision-making, in 2019 we used funding from the Strategic Legal Fund to carry out research on the position in guidance, case law and practice. We are now exploring policy, strategic litigation and best practice tools to push for clarity.

In the Media

Our solicitors’ work on Age Assessments has been featured in these publications.