This Refugee Week (17-23, June), we invite you to find out more about fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in Hounslow.
Published: Thursday, 20th June 2019
The theme ‘You, me and those who came before’, is an invitation to explore the lives of refugees – and those who have welcomed them – throughout the generations.
People escaping war and persecution have been welcomed by communities in the UK for hundreds of years, and their stories and contributions are all around us.
Children who arrive in the UK without their parents or carers usually go into the care of their local authority and will often live with approved foster carers when there is no suitable family member or guardian to care for them.
When such a child or young person comes into our care, we do our best to place them with a foster family who, as closely as possible, match their culture, language and religious beliefs – helping to minimise the changes the individual will have to contend with and so minimise trauma, but this isn’t always possible.
Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services, Hounslow Council said: “Hounslow is a vibrant, cultural borough and I believe that we have and will provide a safe refuge for vulnerable children fleeing danger in their own countries.
“A foster home can provide the stability and support needed to secure a brighter future for children who are most in need.
“The only key requirement to becoming a foster carer is having a spare room. People may wonder if they have the skills to become a foster carer, so I’d like to reassure people that what really matters is being able to offer a loving and caring home to children separated from their own families.”
Fostering an unaccompanied or asylum-seeking child requires a deep level of compassion to help heal the trauma they have experienced – both internal and external. They are also likely to be homesick, even if their native home is now nothing like they remember due to external factors.
The requirements to foster these young people are not the usual ones. While patience, compassion, and understanding are necessary with unaccompanied children fleeing life-threatening homelands, specialist training is needed, so is an understanding of the child’s culture.
Foster carers will also need to support them through the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK, help them integrate into life, or possibly to prepare for their return if it is safe to do so. Many unaccompanied children seeking asylum will also have emotional, practical, language and cultural needs that their foster carers must also consider.
In Hounslow, the largest number of unaccompanied children, come from Afghanistan and Albania, followed by Eritrea, Algeria, Iran and Iraq. Other young people have also come from India, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa, with numbers increasing fast. Hounslow is a vibrant, cultural borough and as a council, we will provide a safe refuge for vulnerable children fleeing danger in their own countries.
If you think you may have the skills, experience and willingness to look after a young person who has arrived in the UK unaccompanied, we would love to hear from you.
To find out more visit www.hounslow.gov.uk/fostering or call 020 8583 3426 to arrange a visit