UACFutures | “Building Futures, Sharing Good Practice: Migrant Children’s Transition to Adulthood – UACFutures”

Unaccompanied Minors need support not only during their childhood years but also in the first years as young adults. In that respect, in January 2022, SolidarityNow initiated the “UACFutures”, an 18-month project aiming to exchange good practices and propose improvements in the quality of support for migrant children during their transition to adulthood at European level, in collaboration with partners from Spain (Convive – Fundación Cepaim), the Netherlands (NIDOS, the national guardianship institution) and the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors in Greece, under the coordination of the Council of Europe.

Four key areas known for their impact in Unaccompanied Children’s (UACs) life will be under the project’s lens, namely:

1) Psychological impact and support

2) Legal support and access to basic rights

3) Access to education and the labour market

4) Access to accommodation.

Taking young refugees’ opinions and experiences into account, the project aims to enhance Europe’s know-how and propose solutions, by creating a compendium of good practices, specially adjusted training material and initiate and mainstream dialogues across Europe regarding the support to migrant children transitioning to adulthood, utilizing audiovisual means, and involving key actors from other EU Member-states.

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In September 2020, SolidarityNow began to actively support one of the most vulnerable groups- that of unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors are boys and girls under the age of 18 who reside in the country, unaccompanied by an adult in charge of their care, who have applied for or are about to apply for asylum.

Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the State and humanitarian organizations, the number of unaccompanied minors in need of immediate and urgent support is still high. Many of the unaccompanied minors living in our country are in precarious housing conditions or they live in the streets/are homeless.

SolidarityNow supported unaccompanied refugee children through the following programs:

A) Urgent support to unaccompanied minors in temporary accommodation structures in Northern Greece

SolidarityNow provides care and support services to 175 unaccompanied children, in three temporary accommodation facilities in northern Greece, specifically in the prefectures of Kozani and Ioannina. Unaccompanied minors, who previously lived either in Reception & Identification Centers, or were in custody, are supported by appropriate services (psychosocial support, legal assistance, interpretation, educational and recreational activities, access to medical care, etc.). (program completed)

This emergency intervention was implemented under the general coordination of the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, the cooperation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the support of the European Commission.

Β) Supported Independent Living Apartments for Unaccompanied Children aged 16 or more “Step by Step”

SolidarityNow is offering an alternative form of care for unaccompanied children aged 16 to 18, ultimately aiming towards their social integration. Specifically, through a qualified and multidisciplinary team of professionals, the program provides safe housing in supervised apartments in Athens and Thessaloniki, accompanied by a set of support services (psychosocial support, legal counselling, interpretation, access to medical care, educational and recreational activities, employability counselling, etc), provided by expert professionals of the organization.

“Step by Step” supports hosted children in several ways: through individualized care and protection; improvement of their skills and capabilities; support in order to formulate and realize their personal goals; and finally, through the reinforcement of their self-confidence and self-reliance, in order to gradually become more autonomous in their transition towards adulthood, and to become active members of the Greek society. (program completed)

The program (MIS:5063334) was funded within the framework of the National Program of the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund and the European Union and implemented with the support of the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, and in collaboration with the Public Prosecutors for Minors and the Local Competent Public Prosecutors.