About

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About2023-07-06T16:17:50+01:00

Welcome to the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) – a specialist legal and policy hub based at Islington Law Centre in London.

We represent young people who have been displaced by war or fleeing abuse, trafficked into the UK for exploitation and slavery, and young people separated from their families and effectively “invisible” in terms of civil and legal status because of immigration laws. Through our strategic litigation, policy reform and public legal education initiatives we drive systematic change to achieve equality and social justice for this group of young people.

We have a high success rate in direct casework securing protective status for young people so that they can recover from their experiences and begin to rebuild their lives. Our work has created significant changes in law, policy and practice and we are regularly called upon for expert advice, support, bespoke training and evidence from lawyers, NGOs, children’s charities, community and voluntary sector organisations and statutory agencies.

Please explore our website to discover more about who we are, what we do and how you can get involved.

What we do:

MiCLU works closely with Islington Law Centre’s team of lawyers leading and developing specialist legal services aimed at upholding and improving the rights of young people. Our work is led by the views and experiences of our young clients who continue to inspire and develop our services. Together we are committed to educating young people about their rights and supporting the work of carers and professionals dedicated to helping young people live safe and protected lives in the UK.

We believe that the law can be used as an effective tool to create social change and we are committed to advocating for child and youth-centred legal processes and systems. We also believe that by building partnerships between individuals, organisations, statutory and non-statutory agencies across different professional disciplines and by working alongside the children and youth we represent we can tackle and address the complex realities, challenges and injustices faced by young refugees and migrants, so they are treated as children first and foremost.

We carry out our work through an integrated work programme, including:

  • Direct legal representation and support for children and young people (via our pioneering child-centred and holistic legal and advocacy service). We represent children fleeing war, conflict, abuse and persecution, trafficked into the UK for exploitation and slavery and undocumented young people effectively “invisible” in terms of civil and legal status because of UK immigration laws.
  • Strategic litigation (to bring legal change with wider impact and benefit for all young people).
  • Policy and influencing work.
  • Consultancy (supporting the work of statutory and non-statutory agencies to design and develop child rights based services, training and evaluation).
  • Legal education work (training legal and non-legal professionals nationally on the needs, rights and entitlements of young people seeking international protection or whose lives are impacted by immigration laws).
  • Public legal education work – the lives of young people are governed by an array of laws and policies. We design legal education courses with young people for young people and for the important people in their lives.

Please click below to explore more about what we do:

Legal Advice
&
Representation

Strategic Litigation

Legal Education & Training

Policy, Research & Consultation

News and events

Working with Children to Create Change

Who we are:

Our vision2023-03-13T13:50:23+00:00

OUR MISSION

To make the immigration and asylum systems safer and fairer and work in the best interests of children and young people.

OUR VISION 

  • Protecting and promoting access to justice for young people.
  • Achieving a best practice model of working that promotes children’s rights by:
    • Employing a child-centred and trauma-informed approach,
    • Providing expert legal representation,
    • Undertaking strategic litigation, and
    • Ensuring our practice experience informs and is informed by policy and research.
  • Bringing the young person’s voice to the fore and ensuring that this is heard at all levels.
  • Working in partnership with those with lived experience of the immigration and asylum system, learning from them and share that learning more widely.

THE MICLU METHOD 

  • Continuing to build our expertise and capacity to ensure we reach as many children and young people as possible, through direct representation and through sharing our skill set and approach with legal representatives.
  • Continuing to address systemic issues and legislation affecting children and young people, through strategic litigation, including supporting challenges brought by third parties.
  • Challenging and influencing government policies and working practices through our policy work, with the aim of embedding a more child friendly approach within government processes and procedures.
  • Ensuring that our clients’ voices are central to our work and are heard by the legal community and by opinion formers and decision makers, through service user engagement and partnerships with community organisations, gaining allies in civil society.
  • Working with young people, amplifying their voices, ensuring their experiences inform our work, informing their deep understanding of the systems applied to them, and securing their future.
  • Working in partnership across sectors to build expertise and encourage best practice when working with children and young people with immigration issues, through policy, advocacy and legal education.
Our Team2024-01-22T11:06:45+00:00
Anna Skehan

Anna Skehan

Anna is our specialist children and young person’s immigration solicitor. Anna has been practising immigration and asylum law since 1998, and has worked at Islington Law Centre since 2003. Anna has experience of running a wide variety of cases having extensive expertise in representing victims of human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. Since 2010 Anna has specialised in immigration and asylum cases involving children and young people representing child victims of trafficking, young people fleeing war, conflict and violence and undocumented young migrants in the UK. Anna was awarded Immigration Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award in 2006 in recognition of her expertise in supporting and representing highly vulnerable migrants. Anna has been a consultant Peer Reviewer for the Legal Aid Agency in the Immigration and Asylum category since 2006. Contact Anna at annas@islingtonlaw.org.uk

Esme Madill

Esme Madill

Esme brings a wealth of experience from her work with community groups. Having founded Refugee Action York and End Child Detention Now, since 2004 she has carried out considerable work for Shpresa Programme supporting trafficked women and unaccompanied asylum-seeing children from Albania. In recent years an increasing amount of her time has been spent trying to find good quality legal representation for clients.  As a consequence she decided to retrain as an immigration practitioner. She completed the LPC in 2015 and was awarded a Justice First Fellowship training contact with MiCLU at Islington Law Centre, on completion of which she was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 2020. Contact Esme at esmem@islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Gurpinder Khanba

Gurpinder Khanba

Gurpinder Khanba has joined MiCLU as our Breaking the Chains Project Casework Supervisor, and will be working in partnership with Shpresa Programme to represent Albanian children and young people and deliver training to empower young people.

Gurpinder has over 10 years of experience in Immigration and Asylum Law. She is a member of the Law Society’s Immigration Panel and is accredited as a Level 2 Supervisor. Gurpinder has represented clients before the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal in a variety of substantive appeal matters and has dealt with a high volume of cases representing clients who have suffered severe trauma, minor children, vulnerable women and victims of human trafficking. She managed the legal aid immigration contract for two offices at an East Midlands firm and worked closely with charities and refugee organisations to set up an outreach service, which was the result of her being the only legal aid provider in Derby.

Gurpinder completed her LLB Hons at the University of Leicester and undertook the Bar Vocational Course at The College of Law (London). She was called to the Bar in October 2008. Contact Gurpinder at gurpinderk@islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Rebecca Flint

Rebecca Flint

Rebecca is a supervising solicitor at MiCLU’s Kids in Need of Defense UK project, working on citizenship applications for minors. She has worked in immigration law for more than a decade, in both private practice and the charity sector. Since qualifying as a solicitor in 2014, she has undertaken a range of cases including complex protection, human rights and statelessness claims, at application stage right through to the Tribunals and High Court. Her work representing trafficked unaccompanied asylum seeking children earned her a nomination for the 2019 ECPAT Children’s Champion Award. Contact Rebecca at rebeccaf@islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Rebecca Flint

Irene Tsherit

Irene is a specialist children’s caseworker at MiCLU. She has over eight years’ experience in immigration and asylum law and is a Chartered Legal Executive accredited as a Senior Immigration Caseworker and Supervisor by the Law Society. Irene’s experience includes assisting vulnerable clients, such as unaccompanied children and victims of torture and domestic violence. She has also assisted many victims of trafficking and has successfully challenged negative NRM decisions.

As a child, Irene was forced to leave the Soviet Union with her family and they were granted refugee status in the United States. Irene initially trained as a teacher of English as an Additional Language (EAL), as she wanted to help other children fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. She was inspired to pursue law whilst teaching at a secondary school in South London. Having completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Irene went on to complete a post-graduate diploma in law and qualified as a CILEx lawyer in 2022.

As a former refugee Irene knows first-hand how stressful the immigration system can be. She is passionate about providing a high-quality service and achieving the very best results for her clients.

Contact Irene Tsherit at irenet@Islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Richard Crellin

Richard Crellin

Richard joined MiCLU in 2023 and works with the team to improve the support offered to refugee and migrant children. By focusing on young people’s voices and experiences and the day-to-day experiences of the team when representing young people he works to build evidence of the problems young people face when engaging with the UK’s immigration, system and to find solutions to improve their experiences.

Richard works for a number of different organisations that support children and young people. Alongside his work for MiCLU he also co-facilitates the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation’s Leaving Care Learning Programme. Before moving into freelance policy consultancy work for organisations supporting children and young people, Richard worked at The Children’s Society for many years in their Policy, Research and Public Affairs Team.

Contact Richard Crellin at richardc@Islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Deborah Thackray

Deborah Thackray

Deborah joined MiCLU in March 2016 as our Legal and Research Officer. She first became involved with refugee law while studying her Master’s at Charles University in Prague after visiting a Czech immigration detention centre. Deborah went on to work at Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance, a British charity that provided legal aid and psychosocial services to refugees in Egypt, where she led the unaccompanied minors team, and later as refugee status determination team leader. Deborah has taught comparative international refugee law at the American University in Cairo, and also worked for UNHCR as a resettlement consultant and a refugee status determination appeals officer. She is an accredited caseworker at OISC Level 2, and from November 2015 supported our Centre’s work to reunite refugees in Calais with family members in the UK. Deborah leads our legal research programme underpinning MiCLU’s advice, policy and legal education work. She also works at Freedom from Torture as Data Analyst. Contact Deborah at deboraht@islingtonlaw.org.uk.

Our History2022-11-21T14:24:42+00:00

MiCLU was established in 2012 by Baljeet Sandhu based on her experiences as a youth worker and a legal aid lawyer representing migrant and refugee children within UK immigration and care systems. Baljeet formerly worked at Refugee and Migrant Justice to build a targeted children’s rights programme to improve the legal representation of children and develop innovative strategic legal and associated policy work to further refugee children’s rights more widely.

To ensure the continuation of this work after Refugee and Migrant Justice closed down, the Refugee Children’s Rights Project (RCRP) was created, hosted by Islington Law Centre and Coram Children’s Legal Centre. Building on the work of RMJ, the RCRP combined strategic litigation with rights-based policy advocacy to promote and advocate for children’s rights within UK immigration and care systems. The project was involved in a number of ground-breaking cases on children’s rights and played a key policy and influencing role in the work of the Refugee & Migrant Children’s Consortium and other legal and policy networks.

MiCLU was formally established in 2012 with legacy funding awarded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (DPWMF) to take forward this work. MiCLU has since been growing from strength to strength, forging new and exciting partnerships with law centres, lawyers, children’s charities, statutory agencies, academics and universities nationally.

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