Many travelled to the UK legally but later lost contact with their families or were thrown out. Without official registration they cannot access benefits, education or apply for council housing.
According to the report London is a hotspot for the phenomenon but stateless children are also found in such cities as Oxford, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Coventry. The children come from such countries as Afghanistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Iran and Iraq.
Jennifer Blake of Peckham charity Safe N’ Sound told the BBC: “Safe ‘n’ Sound’s Jennifer Blake said: “To date, we’ve been approached by over 600 young people. It is a big issue.”
One case highlighted is 17 year-old Tony from Uganda, who has been sleeping rough for two years since being thrown out by his father while they were living in the UK. He told the BBC:
“It is a struggle. If you are hungry you need money. But if I steal I end up going in prison and that’s not me, I don’t want that.”
He added: “This year when the cold came it really had me – I was coughing, sneezing. I got it badly. I’ve got a lot skinnier because of the problems I’ve been having.”
Tony found it difficult to prove his identity to immigration officials. “They’ve told me I need to get a letter from my dad. How can I get a letter from my dad if he kicked me out?”
Both Safe N’ Sound and the Coram Children’s Legal Centre have called on the authorities to take more notice of the problem