ECPAT UK, MiCLU, Shpresa Programme, Young Roots and 17 other organisations have written to the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, to highlight the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on looked after children and young people seeking asylum, including those who have been trafficked.

The letter raises some of the grave issues that these young people are facing during the current pandemic and government response. These issues include increasing young people's vulnerability to going missing and being re-trafficked, late payments by local authorities leading to young people being unable to meet their basic needs, and the scarce support for dealing with serious mental health issues that have been exacerbated by the lockdown.

The charities provided the Commissioner with the stories of a number of young people who have been adversely affected by the government response to the pandemic. This includes the particularly concerning case of P*, a 20 year old survivor of child trafficking under the care of his local authority. On the 19th March 2020, his social worker wrote to a volunteer at Shpresa stating:

“There has been some problem with his weekly allowance, and last he got some payment on the 04/03/2020. He is expecting his money tomorrow but I have just been told that money will not be paid to him till next week Wednesday. Please can you call him and explain to him – I would very much appreciate your kindness. Can you let me know. We are very busy and not much staff around.”

Social services made no arrangements to pay him any money before 25th March 2020 - leaving him without any money to live on for three weeks. Soon after this email was sent, P went missing. Any young person going missing from care is deeply troubling, but here, P’s history of trafficking coupled with his lack of basic means and reduced interaction of the local authority serves to underscore the urgency of the charity's concerns.

In the letter, we call on the Children’s Commissioner to use her statutory powers to listen to children and young people, investigate failures in responses to their needs at this time, and advocate for a better response to safeguard and promote their welfare.

ECPAT UK continues to call for all child victims of trafficking to be given stable futures - now more than ever as this crisis unfolds.

*Name changed to protect the young person's identity


Press contact

Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, ECPAT UK, [email protected] 020 7607 2136