Agreement in place for Calderdale Council to take care of unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Calderdale Council has agreed to take into its care two unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum into the UK immediately and two more in the summer holidays, councillors heard.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 11:00 am
Calderdale Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins
Calderdale Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins

Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins, told the council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Board that the Government wants to encourage more local authorities to take part in a new voluntary rota system.

Regions including Kent and the Yorkshire and Humber were taking significant numbers of unaccompanied children as these were the areas where they arrived, with Kent in particular struggling to cope with the numbers.

But Calderdale had always played its part, said Ms Jenkins, and following consultation with the Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) and Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), had agreed to take the four young people.

“We have always been a council that has supported and taken in a number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children,” she said.

The council would continue to work with Migration Yorkshire and the 15 local authorities on the local voluntary rota system, with the intention to take more young people as per agreed allocation.

A couple of years ago there were more than 20 such young people the council was looking after, but numbers had decreased with some of them returning to their country of origin, she said.

Board Chair Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said he was very pleased the council was playing its part – he understood there was an allocation system and wanted to know what it was for the borough.

“I would encourage Calderdale to live up to its values and offer as much help as possible to these young people,” he said.

Ms Jenkins said in Calderdale it would be up to 32. Twenty four had been the maximum cared for at one time previously. There were four at the moment.

Coun Diana Tremayne (Lab, Todmorden) said children in this position often suffered from trauma and had complex issues and Ms Jenkins said the council had just submitted a bid to a regional fund offering trauma training for carers including foster parents.

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