Barnardo’s supports the calls to admit 3,000 more unaccompanied refugee children to the UK.
But as the Government considers its options we are warning that if the right support is not put in place urgently, many of these children could find themselves alone, homeless and battling mental health issues.
Many of these unaccompanied children will have been severely traumatised by the effects of war - they will have witnessed things we can’t even imagine. Therefore, as we would if our own children had suffered the same, we must put in place that comfort, reassurance and support they so desperately need.
The Government must urgently prioritise specialist, tailored care required by the unique circumstances of refugee children, and a strategic resettlement plan for the assessment and support of Syrian refugees should be put in place – we have seen no evidence any of this has been done.
They then need to stay in sensitive, loving foster homes whilst they live in the country, with each foster carer trained to nurture them and meet their needs. Many unaccompanied and potentially trafficked children end up staying in inappropriate placements and accommodation without much support, for example bed and breakfast. As a result, two-thirds go missing from care, putting them in danger from traffickers or predatory adults.
These children need, and deserve, a decent place to live with the right people and support in place for as long as they need it. Effective support now will also prevent problems in the future. If this is not put in place we are deeply concerned about the impact on these children and whether they will be able to live healthy and safe lives in the UK.
Chief Executive, Barnardo’s, Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex, IG6 1QG
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