Asylum seeking children living in Wakefield denied moves to loving homes by lockdown restrictions

Several asylum seeking children living in Wakefield without their parents were cruelly denied moves into loving homes when lockdown was imposed, it's been revealed.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 7:00 am

Government guidance prevented any child in the care of a local council from moving into new accommodation after restrictions were imposed on March 23.

There are currently 15 unaccompanied asylum seeking children being looked after by Wakefield Council.

Originally from Vietnam, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia and Eritrea, all of them have come to the UK without their parents over the past five years.

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The timing of lockdown scuppered plans for a number of children to be moved into permanent homes.

Like other children in the council's care, some of them are housed in specialist accommodation or supported lodgings, if a foster carer for them can't be found quickly.

This week however, it was revealed that an unspecified number of them had been due to move out of the care system, because the council had found better homes for them with new families.

But a report revealed that because of the lockdown, they, "Have not been able to transition into other provision as previously anticipated".

The local authority's service director for children in care, Victoria Schofield, said the council would "continue to look at the individual needs of the child, young person or care leaver, to make sure they are in accommodation that is appropriate for them.”

The Refugee Council, which promotes the causes of people coming to the UK in search of a safe haven, said the pandemic had been especially tough for young children who've come from abroad.

Helen Johnson, head of children's services at the organisation, said: "Lockdown has been incredibly hard and lonely for many unaccompanied children, who have no family and usually few friends in the UK.

"Trying to keep up with school or college remotely, for those with access to wi-fi, has been difficult for many, and trying to assimilate into a new culture is doubly hard with all the lockdown restrictions in place.”

Speaking about the issue at a scrutiny meeting on Monday, the council's chief finance officer, Neil Warren, said he wanted more cash from the government to help ensure the wellbeing of the youngsters.

"They need our care and support," he said.

"Is the money (we have from the government at the moment) sufficient? It depends how and where we place them.

"We're struggling to find adequate numbers of placements for all looked after children at the moment and the costs range.

"It's not just the placements we have to pay for. It's the social work time, it's the transport and the mental health support and things like that.

"While the government funding is always welcome, I'd always welcome more funding."

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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