Accompanying Adults

When unaccompanied children in the immigration system have their age disputed, an Accompanying Adult ensures age assessments are conducted properly and fairly.

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What do Accompanying Adults do?

An Accompanying Adult is a volunteer who is there to ensure that the child understands their rights, the meaning of the procedures taking place and to facilitate communication between all parties.

There is no statutory guidance or procedural rules on how the age assessment should be conducted and what can be done to assist the local authority to carry out a fair and just assessment; however there are a number of court judgements (known as case law) that set guidance on how the assessment should be carried out. The local authority has to conduct an assessment which is ‘Merton compliant’ (B v Merton [2003] EWHC 1689).

The Accompanying Adult should have a non-judgemental approach and be able to exercise discernment and objectivity. An Accompanying Adult will:

  • facilitate communication between the child and the social workers
  • observe whether or not social workers are acting properly and fairly
  • ensure the child understands what is happening and why
  • ensure the child understands their rights

Professionals can book an Accompanying Adult Here

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Being a volunteer Accompanying Adult

Volunteers are warmly welcomed into the YLF team who truly value them and their time.

YLF delivers a thorough training course to all applicants to ensure they are fully equipped. YLF will provide:

  • training focused on core skills, safeguarding and role specifics including a period of shadowing
  • supervision to ensure that skills are always to maximum impact
  • an open door policy with the invitation to visit us at our hubs at any time
  • invitations to social events so all volunteers have the chance to meet and share experiences
  • opportunities to support our charity in other ways such as participation in fundraising events
  • support towards additional training or courses to develop skills or careers

And lastly YLF reimburses all authorised expenses including mileage.

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Am I Suitable to Volunteer?

With a commitment of at least 6 months to the role and a genuine passion for improving the lives of young people and families, you are already suitable!

We require someone who can be a positive role model for young people, a champion of their needs, interests and aspirations and someone who can listen and offer encouragement.

There are some FAQ’s at the bottom of this page to help you further, or just call us to discuss any concerns you have.

What Others Say

“Even though at times you hear the harrowing background of a young person’s journey to the UK, it is rewarding to be supportive. You are also able to ensure that the person understands the proceedings and that the age assessment is conducted in the correct manner. In addition my geography of the world has improved enormously!” Dennis, volunteer accompanying adult

“It’s a pleasure to volunteer as an AA. That feeling of knowing you’ve helped someone is something that’s long standing and keeps you going.” Eileen, volunteer accompanying adult

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an accompanying adult?


An accompanying adult is a volunteer, 18 years of age or over, who assists and advises a child during their age assessment interview. They act independently from the local authority and ensure that all the necessary processes are being conducted properly and fairly.

What is the purpose and why are accompanying adults needed?


An ‘age assessment’ is the process where the local authority make an assessment of a child in order to establish their age. A key part of this process is an interview, or series of interviews, with the child and the assessing social worker and this is where the accompanying adult is required to be present.

There must be two qualified social workers conducting the assessment. Most often an interpreter will also be present.

What does an accompanying adult do?


The role of the accompanying adult is to:

  • Advise and assist the child being interviewed
  • Observe whether or not the interview is being conducted properly and fairly
  • Facilitate communication between the social workers and the child

A report/monitoring form is completed in respect of each interview and submitted to YLF as soon after as possible.

Any points or issues of concern will then be followed up with the relevant agency and/or volunteer.

Matters requiring urgent attention (e.g. safeguarding concerns) should be reported as soon as possible to YLF.

What sort of people do accompanying adults help?


Accompanying adults are called to help children who have their age disputed by the local authority.

How much time do volunteers need to give?


Volunteers will be notified one week in advance of the interview date, time and venue. The service operates Monday to Friday 0900 – 1700.

How much will it cost?


Nothing other than the volunteers time. All authorised expenses are reimbursed, including travel.

How do volunteers know what to do and not do?


All volunteers undertake full training comprising:

  • Seminars/briefing sessions on legislation, policy and practice
  • A study of the Merton Judgement

There is a handbook provided and ongoing training opportunities throughout the time as an accompanying adult.

What help is provided?


A handbook includes all that is needed to know about being an accompanying adult.

We are also available by email and phone to answer any queries you might have at any time.

All volunteers receive supervision and if you require more support a one-to-one meeting in person can be arranged as well as support via phone and email as regularly as required.

In addition, there will be a number of informal social gatherings where volunteers can meet and share their experiences.

Do volunteers need a DBS check or any other background checks?


Yes. All volunteers are required to complete an enhanced DBS form; we also seek
a reference from the current employer and two others (whom you have known for over 5 years).

How do I apply?


You would need to complete and return an application, safeguarding and data protection form (there is also an optional equal opportunities form).

You can apply directly online here, or download these forms from our Resources page and send them by:

Email |

Post | YLF Volunteering, 71 College Road, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6SX

If you require hard copies, they are available upon request.

What Next?

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Apply to Volunteer

Apply online now to become an accompanying adult

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Volunteer Handbook

Read more about volunteering in our downloadable handbook

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Other Enquiries

Contact us if you have further questions about volunteering