Supported Options is a special initiative of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, delivered in partnership with Unbound Philanthropy. It encourages and supports innovation in helping children and young people with irregular immigration status in the UK to live full lives. It does this by grant-funding a small number of charities and law centres to collaborate with others in designing and operating new approaches. It also seed-funds new ideas and commissions research on knowledge gaps. It shares learning through reports, online blogs and web resources, and supports a practitioner network.
The Supported Options Initiative has three aims: first, increased citizenship registration of marginalised UK-born children; second, improved support to young people with irregular immigration status to explore their options and make choices about their future. The third initiative aim is to understand the experiences of young people and share this and practical responses with practitioners and policy makers.
This initiative was established in 2010 in response to the fact that children and young people with irregular immigration status can be extremely vulnerable, yet unable to access the help and support available to other young people. An estimated 120,000 children in the UK have no legal status so are undocumented or irregular. Lack of legal status blocks them from fulfilling their potential and many experience barriers to health, education, work and social welfare. They need assistance to address their legal status or to consider leaving the UK, but sources of specialist support are scarce and mainstream organisations are not equipped to help, a situation exacerbated by cuts to legal aid for immigration work in 2013. There are routes in to regular status, but the process can be lengthy and expensive.
For more information please contact the Initiative Coordinator, Sarah Cutler at undoc[at]phf.org.uk
Irregular migration is by definition not recorded. However, the most up to date estimates suggest a population of irregular migrants and their UK-born children of between 417,000 to 863,000 (central estimate 618,000) at the end of 2007.
Best estimates are that approximately 120-140,000 children and young people are living in Britain without the legal right to reside under current immigration laws.  Of these, it is thought that around 65,000 young people were born in Britain, have been educated here and speak English. Research suggests that many are living in conditions of severe poverty.
There are no official records of the countries of origin of young people and their parents, but significant groups are likely to include Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Nigerian and Brazilian, alongside Afghani and Kurdish.
The term ‘irregular migrant’ typically refers to the people in a country who are not entitled to reside there. There are multiple pathways into irregularity for adults and children, including refusal of asylum applications, overstaying time-limited visas to work, study or visit the UK, or entering the UK illegally (including those trafficked or smuggled here). Other terms commonly used to describe irregular status include ‘undocumented’ and ‘illegally resident’.
 Gordon I., K. Scanlon, T. Travers, and C. Whitehead. “Economic Impact on London and the UK of an Earned Regularisation of Irregular Migrants in the UK.” GLA Economics, Greater London Authority, London, 2009
 ‘No Way Out, No Way In: Irregular migrant children and families in the UK’, Prof. Nando Sigona, University of Oxford, May 2012 http://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/files/Publications/Reports/NO_WAY_OUT_NO_WAY_IN_FINAL.pdf
 Ibid. Citing research by Amnesty International and the Children’s Society.
 These nationalities were the most prevalent among removals from the UK in 2011, according to official UK Border Agency statistics analysed by the University of Oxford. See: http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/deportations-removals-and-voluntary-departures-uk