The following blog was written by a young woman who, despite living in the UK since she was a young child, does not yet have leave to remain in the UK and who is currently ‘undocumented’. She describes the experience of both knowing and of being unaware of her status in the UK, and the impact of being able to meet other young people with similar experiences.
In the UK there are many children and young people, such as myself, who were or who still are unaware of the fact that they have no ‘lawful’ status in the country. I have now been living in England for twelve years, but it wasn’t until recently that I found out that I have no status. The only reason that I wasn’t told about my status any sooner was because my parents said that they didn’t want to worry me. They didn’t want me to carry around this weight, along with the weight of having to do my A-levels as well. For me it would have been better for them to have told me about my situation sooner.
Until I became aware of this fact, I felt equal to my peers. I felt as though I had the same privileges as them. However, that was not the case. Once I found out that I had no status, I found many of the answers that I was looking for. For example, in secondary school when my peers would go on school trips that were abroad, I wouldn’t be able to go with them. At the time, this really saddened me. Now I understand why I was unable to go abroad with the rest of my classmates and friends.
Although my questions were answered, when I discovered the truth I was also devastated. I didn’t want to have to return to the country where I was born as I had no memories of there at all and all of my friends and family are here in the UK. Also, the fact that I may not be able to go to university along with my friends and the rest of my classmates became evident.
I used to think that I was the only person that was experiencing these feelings and events. For a long time I carried this burden with me. I didn’t know anyone that I could speak to about my situation without being judged or viewed as being “different”. Just for Kids Law and the Let Us Learn group helped me to see that I wasn’t the only one in this position. I met others that had been or still were in the same position as me. They shared their stories with me and it helped me feel a lot better about mine.
The weight I had been carrying with me has finally been lifted.
By anonymous blogger, aged 16.