There is still time for community organisations working with young refugees and asylum seekers to apply to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund for the current grants round. This round has quite a short timeframe - it opened for applications on 4 July and closes on 12 September. However, it forms part of a three-pronged strategic approach to funding work in this area.
The fund has always been intended to have a 'spend out' policy - to allocate all its funding within a finite period before closing. The board of directors recently decided to accelerate this process and spend out all existing capital by about 2016. They also decided to concentrate on three main strands of work, including refugees and asylum seekers. Within this strand, one objective is to "change immigration legislation to meet international standards on children's rights and ensure the priority of the best interests of the child".
"It's very important that resources are directed right to the coalface, to community organisations providing direct services and advocacy with this group," says David Farnsworth, head of the refugee and asylum seekers initiative at the fund. "Key to the whole initiative is the need to get children and young people, who are also refugees or asylum seekers, treated as children and young people first. Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes is a major piece of work for us."
This work, in turn, informs broader strategic policy work. In addition to this open application grants round, the fund has selected partners including the Children's Society to pursue the issue at this level. The third element in this programme will be to bring together key parties to focus on specific topics, share good practice and discuss ways to push these topics further up the public and policy agenda. The fund aims to start work on this in November.
It's a tightly planned programme for tackling some difficult issues. However, Farnsworth feels that the spend-out policy gives it a particular impetus.
"A finite programme does create a different energy and encourages us to focus," he says. "In the time we have with the resources we have, we want to do the best possible job and be as strategic as possible to make a difference."