Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council today speaks out about his concerns on the lack of consultation and poor planning by the Home Office in its placement in the city of vulnerable unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. He says:
“We are deeply concerned that last week, with less than 24 hours’ notice, we were informed that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were to be placed by the Home Office into a hotel in the city.
“We were not consulted about this decision, there was no discussion with our communities and all arrangements have been made and are being managed by the Home Office.
“We care deeply for the welfare of these children and have concerns, due to the speed at which this has happened, about their well-being and the support they are receiving.
“This should be the highest priority of the Home Office. We have requested officials and minsters provide us with information and reassurance about their current and ongoing care and support.
“Further, myself and Councillor Hannah Clare have written to Priti Patel, Secretary of State for the Home Department to raise our concerns and disappointingly we have yet to have a reply.
“While we continue to push for information, we are also seeking our own legal advice to clarify the responsibilities the Home Office has for these young people and what this covers exactly.
“As a council we’re proud to welcome and offer sanctuary to refugees and children who have arrived in the UK by themselves, from countries where war, persecution and climate change are making their lives unbearable. We’re currently caring for and supporting 38 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and over 100 unaccompanied asylum-seeking adults who are now care leavers.
“We firmly believe that all councils should play their part in supporting refugee children, the voluntary scheme we have at the moment is not working and we continue lobbying Government on this issue.
“We know many organisations in the city will want to offer support to the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and we will be talking to the Home Office in the coming days about how offers of help can be put forward to them.
“We will not be providing any further details. This is to protect the young people and the people supporting them.
“We ask that everyone tries to understand that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are very vulnerable and have complex needs, following on no doubt from extremely traumatic life experiences in their countries of origin and long and unsafe journeys. Like everyone else they are entitled to privacy.”