Unaccompanied children in the immigration system often have their age disputed by either the Home office or a local authority. When a local authority does not accept what a child says about their age, two social workers undertake an age assessment.
An Accompanying Adult acts independently from the local authority to ensure that age assessment interviews are conducted properly and fairly. Our Accompanying Adults are volunteers that are fully trained to ensure they can give the best support to children seeking asylum.
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  EWHC 1689)
The role of the volunteer Accompanying Adult is to ensure that the child understands their rights, the meaning of the procedures taking place and must be able to facilitate communication between all parties. The Accompanying Adult should have a non-judgemental approach and be able to exercise discernment and objectivity.
“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 James | volunteer accompanying adult.
The role of Accompanying Adult involves:
• facilitating communication between the child and the social workers
• observing whether or not social workers are acting properly and fairly
• ensuring the child understands what is happening and why
• ensuring the child understands their rights
Find out more about becoming an Accompanying Adult by downloading a info pack.