Home Office accused of still ignoring offers to house children from camps in the UK
Pressure is building on the Home Office to fulfil its promise to give sanctuary to child refugees as it emerged that foster agencies across the UK have offered dozens of places that remain unused.
Estimates suggest there are hundreds of places available for vulnerable unaccompanied minors in addition to the 1,400 offers from local councils that the Home Office is accused of ignoring.
Britain’s largest fostering and adoption charity, Tact Care, said that fostering agencies had told the Home Office they had significant capacity to house child refugees. Tact Care alone had 25 spaces that could be used immediately.
Andy Elvin, chief executive of Tact Care, said: “The Home Office could easily accommodate its obligations to offer sanctuary to vulnerable minors. Its response has nothing to do with capacity, it’s essentially an ideological decision they are making. It’s not one based on child welfare or our ability to do it as a country, it’s that they don’t want to do it. We’ve told the Home Office but they are not interested.”
Pressure is also mounting on cabinet ministers who backed a scheme to welcome unaccompanied minors to take a “moral stance” after some protections for children were dropped from the Brexit bill.
Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, was one of the Tories to rebel in support of a plan drawn up by the Labour peer Lord Dubs in 2016, which committed the UK to accept almost 500 unaccompanied child refugees. Lord Dubs was one of 10,000 children rescued from the Nazis by the Kindertransport in 1939.
A separate commitment to allow child refugees stranded in Europe to reunite with families in Britain after Brexit was dropped by Boris Johnson.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, called on ministers and Tory MPs to reverse the “moral disgrace” of removing the protection for children.
“At the election, Johnson promised to maintain the UK’s reputation as a ‘beacon of freedom and human rights’.” he said. “However, at the first hurdle, he showed his true colours: tearing up protection for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Charities are stepping in after growing frustrated with the Home Office’s slowness in transferring child refugees to the UK. The Dubs amendment of May 2016 followed a public outcry about the plight of children stranded in Europe. Campaigners had hoped that as many as 3,000 children would benefit, but ministers set a limit of 480. The Home Office refuses to specify how many of these children have since been transferred to Britain.
Now a project, funded by a Jewish philanthropist, will find family-based placements for children who arrive under the Dubs scheme and ensure that councils have money upfront to provide a home.
The project, launched in Bristol, Wiltshire and the London borough of Lewisham, and run by a Christian charity called Home for Good, is seeking an initial 20 homes.
The charity said the situation was so poor that it had identified children processed by the UN refugee agency in European camps who were still waiting for places to become available. Emily Christou, head of advocacy at Home for Good, said: “We heard that the 480 still seems to be way off. We knew there was public goodwill out there and we knew that local authorities are saying they’ll take more.”
The scheme’s first meeting between a family and a social worker took place last week. The next step will be winning approval from a local authority panel and receiving an allowance to cover the costs of opening their home.
Jennifer Nadel, co-director of the campaign group Compassion in Politics, said: “It is scandalous and heartbreaking that the UK isn’t honouring its moral and legal obligation to these refugee children. We are the fifth largest economy in the world; we have families and local authorities willing to welcome these children with open arms. The problem is the lack of political will.”
The Home Office says it is committed to the Dubs scheme and that safeguarding vulnerable children will remain a priority after Brexit.
Transition Worker - Cambridgeshire
Location: Cottenham and locations across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough
Salary: £20,500 - £21,525 p/a depending on experience and qualifications (maximum job rate potential is £22,550 which is performance related).
Contract Type: Permanent / Full Time
Closing Date: Sunday 12 January 2020
Be a part of something amazing. Join the Break team.
We currently have an exciting job opportunity open for a Transition Worker working across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough working with young people transitioning from care into independence in their local community.
Break provides caring support for vulnerable children for as long as they need it. Whatever a child’s start in life, Break believes that with the right care there is no limit to what they can achieve. They provide homes and support where young people can belong, begin to flourish, and embrace their future with confidence and hope.
Being a Transition Worker means you will support our young people leaving care and embarking on their journey of independence. You will work with them on an individualised plan, provide emotional and practical support, and remain a steady figure in their lives as they find their feet in the adult world.
You will need to be someone who is enthusiastic and creative, with a professional, caring, and calm approach. You will need to be committed and flexible, motivated and motivational, and be imaginative in your problem-solving. The role will require you to work both independently and as part of a team, so it is essential you can work well in both situations.
This is an extremely exciting role that offers you the incredible opportunity of being a significant and positive figure within multiple young people’s lives – you will be incredibly important in helping them feel settled and confident throughout the innately tricky shift to independence, and you will be instrumental in helping us to change young lives.
Essential Job Details
Hours: 38 hours per week
Salary: The salary scale for this position will be £20,500 - £21,525 per annum depending on work experience and qualifications (maximum job rate potential is £22,550 which is performance related).
At appointment: The actual salary will be £20,500 per annum depending on work experience and qualifications.
Close date: Sunday 12th January 2020
Interview date: Thursday 23rd January 2020
For more information please contact the HR Team in the first instance via the contact details on the Break Charity website
Voices is our creative writing competition for children in care and care leavers who are 25 or under. The competition is now open! Click here to enter now.
Voices is a celebration of your creativity, talent and imagination. The competition gives you a chance to tell people what you want to say about your experiences. Every year, young people write inspiring stories, poems, raps, and articles, hoping to be shortlisted for our awards ceremony in the Spring. Could you be one of them this year?
The theme for Voices 2020 is ‘Dreams‘.
You could write about a dream you’ve had in the past, what your hopes and dreams are for the future… or anything you can imagine! We’re excited to see what you’ll come up with!
Competition will close on 12 February 2020.
The rules can be found in our Voices T&Cs. If you have any questions, please take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions and if you can’t find your answer there, you can send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get inspired by Voices from years gone by. Head over to our previous winners page to watch videos and read the winning and shortlisted entries for Voices 2018 and 2019.
TACT is delighted to be associated with ‘The Arrival’, the story of two siblings separated by adoption by Olivier Award-winning theatre director Bijan Sheibani. The Arrival is currently running at the Bush Theatre until January 18th.
The play explores the real need to keep siblings together when fostering or adoption is taking place, and the life-long detrimental effects that can happen when siblings are kept apart.
The play has received very positive reviews, including from TACT members of staff and young people. A TACT social worker described it as “beautiful and incredibly moving” while a TACT care-experienced person said “it does a fantastic job capturing the difficult emotions experienced by many in the care system”.
TACT is fully aware of the damage that can be caused when siblings are separated.
TACT CEO, Andy Elvin said: ‘TACT knows the importance of siblings remaining together when they go into care, because that is what they tell us they want. However, there may be occasions when siblings cannot be all placed together due to concerns of behaviour or risk, or simply because of the lack of available foster families. Fostering sibling groups can sometimes be challenging and demanding, but it is also extremely rewarding. TACT is constantly looking for more foster carers who want to give brothers and sisters a stable family home, particularly those who can care for the larger sibling groups.’
Research shows that maintaining sibling relationships for those in care is associated with more stable placements, stronger developmental outcomes and better mental health and wellbeing. Conversely, separation often results in life-long issues around identity and attachment.
Despite this, sibling separation remains the norm. In 2009, 81% of children in care were separated from their siblings, 73% were separated in 2011 and 71% in 2014. The Victoria Derbyshire Show reported in 2018 that more than half of siblings were separated in 30 out of 50 councils. There are no official government figures about the number of separated siblings in the care system. This lack of recorded figures on the matter illustrates how this is an under-explored issue that needs more attention.
The primary problem is that there simply are not enough foster carers and adopters for sibling groups. The need for children to be placed in a foster family is often urgent, and there are limited number of homes with the available space to accommodate siblings.
The Arrival explores these long-term issues, starting with the joyful reunion between biological brothers Tom (Scott Karim) and Samad (Irfan Shamji). Despite Tom’s adoption and all the years spent apart, the two brothers are joined by an undeniable biological bond. But as they become closer and their lives entangle, the psychological effects of being separated begin to cast a dark shadow over their new-found bond.
A taut family drama about obsession, betrayal and the human need to belong, The Arrival is a world premiere written and directed by Olivier Award-winning theatre director Bijan Sheibani (Barber Shop Chronicles, The Brothers Size).
Written and Directed by Bijan Sheibani
Design – Samal Black
Lighting Design – Oliver Fenwick
Sound Design – Gareth Fry
Movement Director – Aline David
Cast – Scott Karim and Irfan Shamji
At Team Fostering our mission statement is simple; Putting Children's Futures First. This embodies our not-for-profit status that drives all decision-making with children at heart, and is embedded throughout the agency.
As an agency with ethical aims we continually seek ways to improve our service, whether that's through innovative support packages for carers, unique training opportunities or child-centred initiatives. In turn this supports foster carers to meet the needs of children and young people in their care.
To this end, in 2018 we partnered with John Sands, a clinical psychologist to form our own Psychological Support Service, a new service that offers foster carers further specialised support. John's work is underpinned by attachment and resilience theories that align with the therapeutic framework used by Team Fostering, The Secure Base Model.
The service initially launched as a 1-year pilot to run from 2018 to 2019 but, following an extremely positive response from foster carers, it was extended to continue into Summer 2020. The aim of the service is to provide support and information to carers and staff that will strengthen their ability to tailor care for individual children, providing them with an opportunity to recover from early traumatic experiences.
John continues to be available across four of Team Fostering's offices; North Tyneside, Middlesbrough, Sheffield and South Normanton; for one day each month. There are two elements to the service; workshops that are open to all carers and staff in the morning, followed by individual consultations over the afternoon. By adopting this model we hope to be able to support as many carers as possible, both to enhance their understanding of the impact of trauma on children and how to help them recover from their experiences, but also to have the opportunity to talk in detail about particular issues.
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency covering the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. If you're interested in becoming a foster carer, contact us to learn more about the role, support, training and salary by:
calling us on 0800 292 2003
submitting an online enquiry by clicking here
News & Jobs
News stories and job vacancies from our member agencies, the fostering sector and the world of child protection and safeguarding as a whole.
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