Responding to the needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK

Home for Good has been deeply saddened to watch the events in Afghanistan unfolding over the past few weeks and days.

Home for Good has been deeply saddened to watch the events in Afghanistan unfolding over the past few weeks and days. We know that there are many families, children, young people and individuals who face extreme uncertainty about the future for themselves and those they love. The images, videos and reports that have emerged paint a picture of desperation for so many.

Situations of crisis such as this are perilous places for children and young people. For those who find themselves separated from family or loved ones, they can very quickly become vulnerable to exploitation and harm. Home for Good’s vision is to find a home for every child who needs one. At the heart of this is a commitment to radical, biblical hospitality; that is, extending a welcome and opening our doors and hearts to the stranger or foreigner.

Beyond the brilliant efforts that have been catalysed in churches and communities across the UK to bring together supplies, food, clothes and equipment to families arriving from Afghanistan, there is a deeper need for the Church to step up for young people who aren’t just without fresh clothes but who are without a safe and stable home to be welcomed into. Young people arriving from Afghanistan and other countries including Syria and Sudan, without their family or carers are referred to as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). Most UASC are aged 16 and over and currently make up around 6% of children in care in England1. We are committed to ensuring that all young people who have experienced significant trauma, including UASC, are able to live in a stable home, with a family and community around them.

From our work on the ground, we know that many local authorities already face a shortage of foster families in their area, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, due to a shortage of homes in the right places with the right skills, UASC form part of a wider group of older children in care who too often are being placed in unsuitable accommodation including hotels, caravans and B&Bs. Our Five-Star campaign shone a light on this poor practice and called for an end to it. Just recently, we heard about UASC arriving in Kent being placed in hotels because of a lack of suitable homes for them to go to, and we joined with over 65 other charities in calling for this to stop2. But we need to go beyond calling for an end to poor practice. We as the Church have an opportunity and an obligation to be part of the solution and provide alternative homes for all young people to be welcomed into.

We want each child or young person, wherever they are from and whatever their experiences, to live in a home that is a haven and to have a family or community by their side who will support them as they begin to navigate what life ahead will look like. We believe the Church is well-placed to lead by example in extending hospitality to all vulnerable children – including those arriving from Afghanistan – and be the community and family that they need. Through our work we have seen many individuals and families step up to go through the approval process and open their home to a vulnerable child through fostering, adoption and supported lodgings.

At this crucial moment, will you consider whether you could do the same and ensure that vulnerable children and young people in the UK are given a safe home? Please call our enquiry line on 0300 001 0995 or email [email protected] to find out more.

Author:
Home for Good


Date published:
September 2021


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