Some of the first refugee children to come to the UK from Calais under the Dubs Amendment have arrived in Hammersmith and Fulham.
Five children under 12 years old are now with foster families in the borough after arriving at the end of October, following the demolition of the unofficial 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France.
They arrived after Hammersmith and Fulham Council social workers visited the camp to carry out “best interest” assessments on thirty unaccompanied minors living in the camp.
The council has been working closely with the Hammersmith and Fulham branch of Refugees Welcome to find and reach out to borough residents who can help to house more refugees, and recently welcomed Lord Alf Dubs, who was instrumental in the introduction of legislation earlier this year which demanded action on child refugees.
Joanne MacInnes, of Refugees Welcome, said: “The Government leaves it to communities to find local landlords. We’re looking for people with an unused basement flat that they weren’t going to commercially rent.”
The new arrivals were welcomed by council leader Stephen Cowan. He visited the camp in Calais on two occasions (see video above). Speaking after a visit he said: “We recognise that the plight of these children is on a historic scale and that it is in the best tradition of Great Britain that we step up, along with other local authorities across the country, to provide those children who have a legal right to be here with protection and support.
“We have foster parents standing by ready to help and will provide safe haven for 15 refugee children currently trapped in the Calais ‘jungle’ who have no relatives in the UK. The government has promised to help these children.
“So we’re saying loud and clear that we’re ready and waiting for the Home Office to do the right thing.”
Since the 1990s refugees aiming to reach the UK have made temporary homes in the Calais area. The population of the most recent camp grew to over ten thousand before it was demolished this month. According to the charity Help Refugees, there were around a thousand unaccompanied minors living in the camp.
Cllr Cowan added the council was able to help refugee children as its finances and services for local people are in good shape and the Home Office is covering costs.
Other boroughs such as Ealing and Hounslow have also accepted the vulnerable youngsters .
Hammersmith and Fulham Refugees Welcome is appealing to borough residents who may be able to offer foster care or rental properties to support future arrivals.
If you are interested, go to the organisation's website
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