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.
2009 – 2010 – Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ – formerly the Refugee Legal Centre)
In recognition of the particular vulnerabilities and needs of children seeking asylum in the UK, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (DPWMF) awarded funding to Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) 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. The programme had a profound impact on the representation of over 1,000 children and young people across RMJ’s 13 offices, whilst its strategic litigation and rights-based policy advocacy work led to a number of changes to law, policy and practice.
Having represented over 110,000 vulnerable people seeking asylum and/or human rights protection since its inception as the Refugee Legal Centre in 1992, RMJ was forced to close its doors due to a funding crisis, and went into administration in June 2010.
2010 – 2012 – Refugee Children’s Rights Project (RCRP)
During RMJ’s closure the DPWMF put in place an emergency resolution to protect the work of the RMJ programme, and to ensure its continuation they funded the Refugee Children’s Rights Project (RCRP) 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. Between 2010 and 2012 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 Children’s Consortium and other legal and policy networks. The project also hosted expert roundtable events on the best interests of refugee children and guardianship for separated children. The project as well contributed to a number of research publications and guides and was a key partner in establishing the Strategic Legal Fund for Vulnerable Young Migrants.
2012 and the future – the Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU)
MiCLU was formally established in 2012 with legacy funding awarded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (DPWMF) to take forward the successful work of the RMJ and RCRP, and we continue to grow from strength to strength forging new and exciting partnerships with law centres, lawyers, children’s charities, statutory agencies, academics and universities nationally.