The voice of the child is crucial to our work. We take time to ensure that we, as representatives, hear the voice of our clients, and that when we speak on their behalf we are communicating what they want to say. Children need time and space to talk about what they have experienced and what they need. They need adults and professionals do demonstrate that they are listening, not just to say it.
“I am very glad that we have won our case. I didn’t think we could do this, but even if we didn’t win I would feel happy because I know you listened to me and you tried very hard for me. I would know that if we couldn’t win with you, we couldn’t win at all because I knew you did everything.” – SM (refugee child)
Our experience through cases such as AN & FA shows that failure to listen to clients’ accounts, and assuming that they are mistaken or untruthful allows injustice to continue. Our long experience in the sector teaches us to listen to what our clients say and not to dismiss that which sounds impossible or which challenges our own understanding or experience. When the first trafficked young people escaped their situations their accounts sounded impossible. Were there really slaves in the UK? Were there really people trafficking children into the UK for sexual exploitation?
It is all too easy, as an adult and a professional to dismiss what a child says or believe that we know better and can do better. This is not always the case.
When the children in Kent spoke of their mistreatment – we listened. We worked on all fronts and that mistreatment was found unlawful.
When we were told that children were trafficked into the UK under cover of legitimate exchange programmes we listened – those children are now safe
When RA said ‘England is my home’ – we listened, and he is home safe?