Aspiring barrister who sought refuge alone in the UK at 17 launches campaign to help other young asylum seekers

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By Aishah Hussain on

Musa Nela received £3k ULaw grant to get initiative going

Musa Nela

An aspiring barrister who sought asylum in the UK alone at the age of 17 is campaigning to help other young refugees find their feet upon arrival in the country.

Musa Nela, now 23 and originally from Albania, is looking to create systems of support for young people seeking asylum in the UK, by lobbying the government to allocate them a guardian. At the moment, this only exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not yet in England or Wales.

Nela, who graduated in law this year from the University of Law, Birmingham, and is staying on to study the bar course with a masters, received a £3,000 grant from ULaw to kickstart the initiative as part of its ‘Change the World’ fund.

ULaw launched the fund last year as a way to support students in making a significant impact on society. It originally pledged to award £5,000 in funding to the winning initiative, a race mentoring project run by LPC student Katie Landsborough, but decided to make an additional £3,000 donation to runner-up Nela.

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Nela’s ‘Distress Signal’ campaign raises awareness of the need for independent guardians for isolated minors. He launched the campaign during Refugee Week earlier this year and is now working with various organisations to promote it further, alongside his bar studies.

“Every child needs someone to turn to. I and many others have faced this struggle and we want to create a real change for children who arrive after us,” Nela said in a statement. “We want to meet with decision-makers and tell them our stories and vision for a change, as only by coming together we can make a real difference.”

In a short blog post, Nela explains how having a guardian help him during the immigration and asylum process helped make his “wildest dreams come true”. With his volunteer’s advice he says he was able to apply for and study law.

“At the age of 17, I arrived in the UK; I was an unaccompanied asylum seeker for three years. I did not have a voice and could not find competent legal advice. I was able to get through the asylum process and I managed to survive but I know that not all young people make it through,” writes Nela. “I don’t want anyone that comes to this country alone at the age of 17 to go through what I have gone through because I did not have a legal guardian.”

On his plans for the future, Nela added: “I want to become a barrister, open my own law firm and be a voice for those who don’t know their rights or have the opportunity to fight for them.”

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