If you have a document [proving your immigration status] it means you have the opportunity to do lots of things. You start living like normal people. Without a document you’re not like normal people. The Home Office tells you what you can and can't do. [When you have the right to remain in the UK] you’re not scared anymore. You can decide what you want to do and pursue your future.

Trafficked and unaccompanied teenagers are just like other young people their age, with hopes and dreams for the future. While they may have experienced unimaginable trauma, they are resilient, resourceful and full of potential. Yet under the current system, they are often unable to recover, live stable lives and plan for their future.

Following difficult journeys to the UK, unaccompanied children may be victims of trafficking, but this often goes undetected by the authorities as there is no one for them to confide in. Young people who are recognised as victims often find this is not the end of their ordeal but the beginning of a new one.

All young people should have the security to plan for their futures as they reach adulthood. Young people who have experienced serious trauma and abuse need even greater stability in order to recover and rebuild their lives. But the UK Government is currently denying these children their right to recovery and to live lives that meet their full potential.

Join us in calling on the government to give trafficked children their futures back

Some of the barriers young people face include securing their immigration status, poor decision making and lengthy waits for immigration claims and other important decisions, and a lack of support to navigate the many complex legal and care systems in the UK. They are forced to do all this without a parent or carer acting in their best interests and in a language they may not understand.

Unaccompanied and trafficked young people can be kept in limbo for long periods of time, left alone without a trusted adult to support them. When they turn 18, much of the support they have received falls abruptly away, which can leave them destitute. At this vulnerable point in their lives, they become more vulnerable to people who may exploit their desperation and many go missing from care. They may also be denied protection by the government and face being returned to their country of origin. On return, they may be met with further harm or even re-trafficking.

Having a stable immigration status and someone to support these children early on in their recovery would allow each of them to live in safety in the UK if they need to, free of fear and of further instability in their lives. It would allow them to focus on their education, future careers and friendships, just like any other young person.

We’re calling on the UK Government to give these children their futures back. Will you join us?

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We're proud to have MPs, peers, charities and frontline organisations supporting our stable futures campaign. See our campaign supporters

Besjana's story

Besjana always wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.

Living in a small town in Albania, at the age of 15, Besjana was groomed by an older man who told her he would marry her. Instead he tricked her, selling her to a trafficking gang and forcing her into child sexual exploitation across Europe. Besjana was found by police in the UK and was taken into care by the local authority. In foster care, she began to recover from her abuse, make friends, go to college and study towards her goal of becoming a nurse. She loved the UK and dreamed of making a future here. She was safe here, unlike back home where she knew she was still at risk from traffickers.

However, after two years of waiting, and despite being recognised as a child victim of trafficking, her attempts to secure immigration leave to stay in the UK were rejected. Facing her 18th birthday, out of fear of the authorities, she ran away from her carers. She ended up being exploited again, this time by a gang who forced her to transport drugs from London into the countryside.

Aged 22, Besjana is now in an immigration detention centre, waiting to be forcibly returned to Albania. She’s terrified that her traffickers will find her there.

Besjana should be on her way to becoming a nurse as she had always dreamed.

Take action to ensure that young people like Besjana have proper support and the option of staying in the UK if they are at risk of further harm. Take action to give them a stable future.

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