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Caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking young people

In recent months there has been an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking young people arriving in the UK, including Rotherham. Most of the time, these young people will have travelled great distances to flee war, political violence, threats to life, exploitation and abuse. They’ve left behind their families, friends, home and may feel confused in a new place where the language and customs are unfamiliar. Could you provide the loving and stable home that an unaccompanied asylum seeking young person desperately needs?

What is an unaccompanied asylum seeking young person?

Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people are children and young people who have been separated from their parents or carers and are seeking asylum in the UK. While their claim is processed, they are cared for by a local authority. The number of lone child asylum seekers in England has risen by almost a third in a year. Statistics from the Department for Education (DfE) show that at the end of March 2023 there were 7,290 looked-after children who were unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. This shows the growing need to find homes for these most vulnerable children.

Do I need experience to care for an unaccompanied asylum seeking young person?

We are eager to hear from existing, as well as potential, foster carers who are interested in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. Foster carers don't need to have experience of fostering before they apply. All our foster carers will be given relevant support and training prior to a home match. The most important requirement is that you can provide the love, care and support that these vulnerable children need and deserve.

What support is offered to help care for unaccompanied asylum seeking young people?

Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people will be offered the same support as other looked after children, plus additional physical and practical support to help them adjust to living in the UK. Some children arrive with nothing, so it's vital to ensure that they are comfortable and have everything they need. Children will be provided with a new wardrobe of clothing, belongings and electronics, depending on what they need when they arrive. This will be covered by extra financial support, so we’ll help you and the child in your care to buy what you need.

It is important to respect a child's cultural beliefs and religion. As a foster carer, asking a child in your care how you can best support them with their faith and culture really helps to build a strong bond and help them feel seen and understood. If a young person speaks little, or no, English, we will do our best to match them with a foster carer who knows the same language. It is not always possible to match a child with a foster carer who speaks the same language, so we will provide additional support where it's needed. This could come in the form of a translator, who will be able to translate for meetings and visits.

Jess, a specialist social worker at Rotherham advises any interested readers to apply to foster an unaccompanied asylum seeking young people:

“Don't be afraid of it! [The children] want to take advantage of opportunities and engage in things. [They've] had a really difficult time and it can be a really rewarding time [for foster carers]. You see them [the children] develop at a really quick rate before your eyes. [You] have to be respectful of their cultural and religious identity and encourage those links, but at the same time, they should be included as a whole in a family life."


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