In September 2015, the Home for Good charity responded to the Syrian refugee crisis by asking people to consider fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Within ten days more than 10,000 people answered their call, and the number continues to increase. This gave Home for Good opportunities to engage with the Government as solutions were sought as to how best provide foster care for unaccompanied minors.
Now in February 2017, Home for Good are asking UK church leaders to add their voice to a statement produced in response to the UK government’s decision to close the ‘Dubs scheme and calls on the authorities to instead welcome more unaccompanied refugee children in the UK.
Over three hundred pastors, ministers and leaders of Christian organisations have already signed.
– – –
Statement on the closure of the Dubs transfer scheme
On Wednesday 8 Feb the Government announced the imminent closure of the Dubs transfer scheme. The Dubs scheme made provision for unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are in transit in Europe to be brought into the UK. Lord Dubs had originally asked for 3,000 children to be accepted (a calculated ‘fair share’ for Britain given the number of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe). The Government agreed to welcome an unspecified number. The scheme is planning to close with 200 children having arrived so far and the promise of around 150 more to be brought in.
This number is far smaller than what is desired. It fits neither the spirit nor the intention behind the transfer scheme and leaves many vulnerable unaccompanied children still in Europe in unsuitable conditions. There are challenges to bringing in more children and teenagers, but there is a willingness from the public to offer help and find solutions to these challenges. Home for Good has had a huge response from the general public with over 13,500 wanting to find out how to start the process to be assessed to foster asylum seeking children.
We believe there is capacity in the UK – but the current national and local systems are not in place to access this.
- We therefore call on the Government to open the door again to refugee children and engage with discussions about how more can be done for them.
- As leaders we offer to assist the Government in making use of civil society’s willingness to help local authorities provide care for these children.