BHT Sussex’s Immigration Legal Service has helped hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers with legal support. Many of those we work with are ‘unaccompanied minors’; young people and children who have often endured unimaginable suffering, and who have no adults to look after their welfare when they arrive in the UK. We provide a crucial service for some of the most vulnerable people in our community, including victims of trafficking and domestic violence. This Is YL’s story.

YL was living in Vietnam with her parents when tragically, when she was just 14, they both died within a short time of each other. Her parents had massive debts when they died, and the people that they owed the money to decided YL would have to pay it off. She was trafficked abroad and sold into prostitution. She was then brought to the UK and forced to do the same work again. However, this time she managed to escape, came into the care of Social Services, and claimed asylum.

She met our solicitor after she was moved to the local area and they started to build her case. She was suffering from post-traumatic stress
disorder, depression and anxiety, and it took a long time to build her trust and prepare a long and harrowing statement. Her first asylum claim was refused. Whilst the Home Office and court believed her history, it was not accepted that she would be at risk if she was returned to Vietnam.

Our solicitor appealed the decision and obtained more evidence to show that she would be in danger if she returned, and that her mental health would further deteriorate. This included medical evidence, and testimony from a Vietnam Country Expert and her carers, with whom she had formed a strong relationship. Their persistence paid off and YL was granted refugee status. She is now settled and studying at College, with hope for a better future.

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