Unaccompanied Child Refugees

Posted on: 25th October 2016

Unaccompanied Child Refugees was a subject covered by radio Cornwall yesterday and as the responsible Cabinet member was not willing to go on air they came to me. Obviously I could not give an official statement for Cornwall Council but I felt that with what is going on in Calais and the arrival of a few young people, just over the border in North Devon, someone ought to be brave enough to speak up. I know that supporting and being compassionate about child refugees will not make me universally popular but I believe helping children in what must be desperate and frightening circumstances is the right thing to do.

Here is a link to the phone in yesterday (24 October) where I was interviewed by Donna Birrell about 10- 15 mins into the show.

Later, the Cabinet member, Andrew Wallis issued a press statement to Councillors and the media. All I can say is I’m glad I spoke before it was issued as it is a bit clinical although a step in the right direction! Here is the official Cornwall Council position:

“We are supporting the humanitarian policy to provide support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and are part of the South West Councils’ scheme, which has been set up to co-ordinate this work in the region.

We are currently best placed to support children aged 16-17 years and have already welcomed a small number of children to Cornwall under the scheme.  We have set up a multi-agency steering group, including representatives from health, education, the police and the voluntary and community sector, to ensure a coordinated response to meet the needs and risks of these young people.  

We are doing what we can to ensure that the scheme is implemented in such a way that we can meet the needs of these children and to keep them safe.  The safety and wellbeing of any child or young person, especially if they are vulnerable, is our utmost priority and we need a sound assessment of their needs and risks before accepting transfer. 

We have initially agreed to provide support for up to 10 children and young people aged 16 to 17 years up to April 2017 and are continuing to talk to the Home Office about the level of resources and financial support we need to deliver this, as well as arrangements for welcoming further children and young people in future years.

We were not consulted about the Government’s decision to place 70 young people with a private provider in the hostel in Great Torrington and are currently seeking more information about these arrangements and the implications for Cornwall. 

The children who come to Cornwall will be placed either with foster carers or with supported lodgings providers, depending on their age and individual needs.  We have invited expressions of interest from existing foster carers and supported lodgings providers, as well as from members of the public in joining one of our placement schemes.  If you are interested in helping, please contact our fostering recruitment team by phone: 01872 323638 or email:fostering@cornwall.gov.uk