Many existing views of practice with unaccompanied children and young people can be limited and limiting. For example, we have noted elsewhere in relation to social work with unaccompanied minors that many research studies
remain flat and unenthusiastic about… practice, largely falling into a portrayal of professional ineptitude, having described failing organisational contexts. In their analysis, gaps trump successes, and the established furrow of telling social workers what they have not done, what they have done too little of, and what they ought to do, is firmly followed. (Kohli, 2007: 3)
Yet, in the course of our work as researchers, working separately on different studies, we encountered social workers and other practitioners who had adapted to what they often found to be an intellectually stimulating and an emotionally challenging environment in which to work. Their accounts of practice and policy were rich in detail and unlike the more familiar view within the literature they offered evidence of practitioners acting in humanitarian ways as they made links between ‘surface’ and ‘depth’ issues (Howe, 1996), and they said more about how young people begin to take charge of their circumstances over time and of how practitioners could work collaboratively or companionably with them to reconstruct their lives.