Supporting Hackney’s young refugees


The experiences of young asylum seeking children arriving into the UK and trying to adapt to life in Hackney, was the focus of an event held by Hackney Children and Families Services and Hackney Museum to mark Refugee Week 2019.

The event, ‘Supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Hackney’ explored the experiences of refugee children and gave attendees a chance to find out how they can help support young asylum seekers in Hackney.

The Council are looking for people who have a spare bedroom and willing to become a foster carer or a supported lodgings host to help a young person settle into life in the UK.

There are nearly 40 children and young people under the age of 18, currently living as refugees in Hackney. Many have travelled from countries where there are high levels of poverty and/or conflict such as Albania Eritrea, Vietnam and Syria.

For a child or young person under the age of 18, arriving as an asylum seeker into the UK is extremely difficult as they face a number of challenges from learning English to trying to understand the asylum seeking process.

Foster carer Joy from Hackney, opened her home to a 17-year-old asylum seeker, from Vietnam. The young person spoke little English and was from a different ethnic background to Joy and her family, which could have been extremely challenging. But by using some creative thinking, patience and care Joy was successful. She said: “When a young person steps into my home they are not identified as a looked after child or asylum seeker, they are a member of the family.”

Hackney has a long history and tradition of providing a safe haven for people of all ages seeking asylum in the UK; in fact since the 17th century. A community of Nonconformists living in Hackney in 1700, promoted ideas of social justice that shaped the modern world and in the late 1800s Jewish refugees settled in Shoreditch after fleeing persecution in Tsarist Russia. Hackney today is now one of the most diverse areas in London with different communities living together who have made the borough their home in recent years.

The Council has received funding from The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Controlling Migration Fund, which is being used to recruit foster carers and supported lodgings hosts. A specialist team has been set up to provide carers and hosts with the support they need and to better support the needs of asylum seeking children.  

To find out more about becoming a foster carer or a supported lodgings host contact: 020 8356 4028 or email supportedlodgings@hackney.gov.uk

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Cabinet Member for Children's Services
Many of these young people have travelled great lengths to flee violence and persecution in their home countries. Finding a home where they can feel safe and supported as well as encouraged to integrate within the community is vital to the support we offer them whilst they are in Hackney.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Cabinet Member for Children's Services