It’s hard to imagine youngsters fleeing their country as refugees but it happens, so it is good news that Devon County Council has successfully applied for funding to support unaccompanied children who arrive seeking asylum in the UK.
From Devon Council website:
The nearly £200,000 from the Government will help the Council recruit and train foster carers, and to appoint volunteers to help children settle into their communities.
It’s part of a package worth £29 million from the Government to increase capacity to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and care leavers, announced yesterday.
Devon has welcomed unaccompanied children seeking asylum since 2015 when under a Home Office programme up to 70 children, displaced from refugee camps outside Calais, were transferred to Devon.
Most moved quickly through the county to be reunited with their families across the UK. A few remained and have since settled well to life in Devon.
A further 19 children arrived in 2017, as part of the National Transfer Scheme and as referrals from Immigration, Police or by other local authorities.
But now, a successful bid to the Home Office for funding is allowing the authority to recruit foster carers and volunteers to help the children integrate into local communities.
Councillor James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for children, said:
“There’s an enormous amount of goodwill in Devon from residents who, seeing where children seeking asylum are fleeing from, are doing all they can to help them establish lives here in safety.
“I’m proud that Devon is able to play its part in giving these children new starts, and it’s great to see them developing into model members of our community, giving back, not just through employment but in being good friends and neighbours.”
The Council wants to appoint volunteers with specialist skills to help children integrate. Volunteers will work with families and schools to support the children, and within local communities to help increase awareness of cultural diversity or to challenge discrimination.
The council also wants to work with local businesses, particularly in farming, in order to develop training and employment opportunities to help integration.
Special training will be also offered to all people who work with the children.
Together, the foster care recruitment and training and the appointment of volunteers will increase community cohesion and help unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to contribute positively to the local economy and society.
Cllr McInnes said,
“We’re delighted to hear that our bid for funding has been successful. Devon is a caring county and I believe that we do provide a safe refuge for vulnerable children fleeing danger in their own countries. With the funding, we’ll be able to help them more as they integrate with their communities.”
The National Transfer Scheme was launched in July 2016 to allocate unaccompanied asylum seeking children fairly across the UK. A significant number of local authorities, Devon County Council included, have participated in the scheme.
To find out more generally about fostering with Devon County Council visit the Fostering Devon website, www.fosteringindevon.org.uk, or call them on 0345 155 1077. For information specific to fostering children seeking asylum, visit