BHT Sussex is one of the only Legal Aid providers in the South East, making the work of our Immigration Legal Service incredibly important. This service provides advice and representation for many people trying to claim asylum in the UK. As part of this service, we help and represent many minors who have arrived in the UK unaccompanied. This was the case with Iva. This is her story.

Iva was kidnapped as a 15-year-old and brought to the UK by traffickers who intended to exploit her. She managed to escape from her trafficker when she arrived in the UK and was subsequently placed in foster care by the local authority.

BHT Sussex began representing Iva to help her claim asylum and remain in the UK safely. The first thing we helped Iva with was preparing a witness statement outlining what had happened to Iva and explain how she arrived in the UK. This information was passed on to the Home Office and her asylum interview was scheduled.

Shortly before the interview, Iva asked to speak with us privately and disclosed that she had been subjected to physical and sexual violence in the UK at the hands of her traffickers. She had not disclosed this to anyone before, as she was worried those around her would judge her and look at her differently.

We reassured her that she had done the right thing in telling us and that she had nothing to be ashamed of. We passed this new information on to the Home Office ahead of the interview the following day.

After the interview, Iva was accepted as a victim of trafficking, but was refused asylum. The validity of her story had been questioned due to the late disclosure of her abuse. We sadly had to explain to Iva that one part of the Home Office believed her, but another did not.

Fortunately, we soon appealed the decision, and the appeal was granted. This allowed Iva to remain in the UK and claim asylum as a refugee. This was a long process for Iva, going on for many years. She was grateful we managed to help her get a positive result in the end.

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