How will this country address the rights and care of migrant children?
Roundtable Debate and formal launch of BME and Migrants Advisory Group: Safeguarding Children and Young People
Host: Sir Keir Starmer QC, Shadow 'Brexit' Minister and MP for Holborn & St Pancras
Date: Wednesday 18 January 2017
Time: 1:30 - 3:00pm
Venue: Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament, London) MOVED TO PORTCULLIS HOUSE, WESTMINSTER
The flow of migrant children arriving from Calais, as part of a national transfer scheme, has initiated calls for action to effectively safeguard these children, in addition to those already in the UK in need of ongoing support.
Leaving aside the humanitarian and emotive response to migrants, there is a clear - and agreed - responsibility on the UK to offer refuge to unaccompanied children in the wake of attacks on the Syrian people and to uphold their rights to care and protection, not currently afforded to them in their countries of origin.
Media headlines in the wake of the clearance of the Calais 'jungle' highlighted an extraordinary lack of planning to assess and transfer the relatively low numbers of child migrants to the UK. The plight of unaccompanied minors is not new, and yet we do not appear to have a coordinated response or contingency planning in place for a process that has seen significant delays, with some local authorities opting out of the expanded Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme.
Frontline teams in health and social care are ready to assist, with little or no structure in place to facilitate this work within the community or through our schools. Home Office figures show that over 4,000 individuals have been resettled under their initiative to date, many it seems in Local Authorities already requiring improvements in child protection and safeguarding practice.
The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK (VCF) and the University of East London (UEL) Centre for Social Work Research have established an advisory group for the safeguarding of BME and migrant children; a multi-disciplinary response to identifying and responding to the very specific needs of these children and young people, including unaccompanied minors coming to the UK, to ensure their immediate and longer-term health and wellbeing.
Failure to respond appropriately in the short-term inevitably leads to longer-term adverse consequences for health and wellbeing. The advisory group aims to ensure that these children and young people receive support and protection provided by services, working to accepted standards of best practice.
We call upon policy makers, service leaders and practitioners in all sectors to identify and deliver coordinated, effective services for migrant children, young people and their families.