Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile – Surviving violence, creating hope, rebuilding lives


Advocacy and Justice

The Baobab Centre is a human rights organisation. We fight for rehabilitation and justice for all young victims of human rights abuses who are seeking refuge in the UK as unaccompanied minors.

As such, we challenge policies and practices of those who exercise the power to make decisions about young people who’ve arrived to the UK as unaccompanied children seeking asylum.  

We are a reflective and research-based organisation and seek to provide expert guidance and expert knowledge to improve asylum systems and social care practices and legislations. We partner with sister organisations to fight against the hostile environment and all unfair policies that prevent young refugees to develop their potential for success in the UK. 

We advocate to support the rights of our community members and young people like them, around along two key areas:

  1. Improving asylum systems: long waiting times, age‑disputes, systematic disbelief, lack of recognition of the impact of trauma in how young people present themselves and their stories 
  2. Fighting poverty and social marginalisation: we fight for asylum support systems to be in line with mainstream benefits, for education access to be made easier, notably access to ESOL classes and higher education access for young people waiting

In numbers


Unaccompanied children asking for asylum last year
(Home Office figures)
– was 5,817 in 2022

(2024 Q1)

Unaccompanied children asking for asylum this year
(Home Office figures)


Unaccompanied children granted some protection
(Home Office figures)
– was 83% in 2022


of people arriving via small boats were under 25 years old
(Home Office figures)
– was 52% in 2022


People age-disputed
(Home Office figures)
was 4,675 in 2022

Direct Engagement

We have regular and direct engagement with Home Office or social care authorities to advocate for our young people directly. We provide expert reports in support of young people’s administrative and legal procedures, we accompany our young people to court to advocate on their behalf and support them step by step, and our casework team works to defend the interests of our young people.

Medical reports produced by Baobab
last year in support of our young people

Our Policy and Influencing Work

Our advocacy team works to bring our unique therapeutic and casework expertise to challenge asylum and social support systems. We conduct regular research with our young people to throw light on their experiences of UK asylum systems, their constructions of resilience or belonging, the many ways they learn to cope with the traumatic abuses they have suffered from.

We disseminate our knowledge via publications, our Baobab Talks series, or by letting our young people share their insights in short films or our recently published book Behind The Mask – written by our young community members and meant as a resource for other people who have experienced similar struggles.

Since 2021 we have submitted expert written evidence to many Parliamentary Committees or as part of the consultation on the different new laws introduced to regulate asylum in the UK – check our Baobab Briefings for a list of recent submissions.

We also often present our work at conferences and lectures as a team along with members of the community who can provide first hand testimony of their experiences in their home countries, on their journeys into exile and in the UK – check out our research page for more information on the different conferences some of our staff have participated in the past.

Speaking Truth to Power

We seek direct constructive engagement with all figures with power to shape young asylum seekers’ lives in the UK and regularly organise meetings with politicians or Home Office officials to explore how to improve current systems. Our young people are invited to these meetings and are encouraged and supported to bravely share their experiences.

Here are a few figures in the past few years that our young people have been able to engage with:

  • Nov 2021: a meeting with Lord Alf Dubs, to discuss the impacts of the new Nationality and Borders bill
  • Dec 2021: a meeting with Jess Philips, Labour MP
  • Jan 2023: a meeting with Home Office directors, to discuss how to improve systems for children seeking asylum

As part of our effort to engage in constructive dialogue with authorities we visited the Small Boat Arrival Facilities in Dover in March 2023 and are currently engaged in dialogue with Border Forces there to help improve age assessment processes and the sign-posting of highly vulnerable and traumatised young children as early as possible upon arrival to the UK.

Our Training Workshops

Our staff team offer training and seminars that provide a mixture of theoretical and practical opportunities for learning about our holistic approach to assessment and treatment. These sessions are open to staff of statutory and voluntary organisations who work with young asylum seekers and refugees. Recent examples include a one-day workshop in September 2022 for members of the pastoral team at Dulwich College where we explored issues of loss and trauma, and their impacts on young people’s development and learning, notably for their young Ukrainian students.

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