Citizens UK: Safe Passage

While others have provided aid to refugees in transit or supported integration when they reach their destination, Safe Passage has worked across borders to open routes so many more children can reach a place where they can lead a full life. In doing so, Safe Passage has filled a gap in the Europe-wide response to the refugee crisis. 

While a child is in a refugee camp, on the streets or in a detention centre, it is not possible for them to build a full and independent life. The key to enabling this lies in helping them reach a place where they will be supported to integrate by their family and/or community and social networks.

Safe Passage’s successes can be attributed to several key factors:

  • Through our focus on helping unaccompanied children reunite with family, we have developed a sustainable model which uses an existing mechanism to enable transfers. Where family links do not exist, we have harnessed the support of communities to open routes and support integration.
  • The project is fast moving, proactive and independently financed, giving us the flexibility to act where the need is greatest in a way that larger charities sometimes cannot, while our expertise, partnerships and professionalism mean we are more strategic than other grassroots actors.
  • Our focus on strategic cases which set a legal precedent mean that our impact is multiplied, so significantly more children can travel through routes we open than just those in our caseload.
  • Strong support from experienced partners including lawyers, larger NGOs and practitioners across Europe has guided the development of our strategy.
  • Our UK programme focuses on the first six months in the UK, helping refugees build networks during this critical time which will support them to live independently. Our Community Mentors are trained to support new arrivals on their journey to independence.

Safe Passage is a project of Citizens UK. It has its own management team, 26 staff and an Advisory Council.

In 2018 Safe Passage will become an independent legal entity as a result of its substantial growth and internationalisation.

Citizens UK develops the capacity of its members to hold decision-makers to account on the issues that matter to them. Safe Passage is an initiative started by Community Organisers from Citizens UK. It helps refugees, predominantly children, access safe and legal routes to places where they can lead full lives. It does this through a combination of political advocacy, strategic litigation, field work and community organising.

Since it began in 2015 it has broken open legal routes to directly support 150 people to arrive in the UK and more than 1,200 have arrived through routes it has helped to open. The team and their model have proven to be extremely effective in opening routes and, crucially, in ensuring structures are in place to help refugees become independent after they arrive with the support of their family, community and other networks.