Foster Care Associates (FCA) are calling for more people to come forward to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs).
According to the government’s most recent report on looked after children in 2021 there were more than 4,000 UASCs in the UK.
There has been a 56% increase in asylum seekers - both adults and children - to the UK since 2020, with 55,146 people applying. The highest figure seen in almost 20 years, since over 60,000 applied in 2003.
Melanie Murphy, Registered Manager at FCA Yorkshire & Lincolnshire said: “We wanted to shine a light on some of our amazing foster parents who have taken care of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. We find that there can be a huge stigma attached to children who are seeking refuge, when really, they have endured hardships that we can barely start to understand. Our hope is that by opening up the conversation, and showing the healing impact that foster parents can have on these young people, we might start to see more people come forward and want to make that difference.”
David and Miranda Whittaker live in Hull and have been fostering for the last two and a half years. Miranda was formerly an independent reviewing officer, and so had worked closely with UASCs. She and husband David decided that they wanted to have more of an impact on these young people.
Miranda said: “After working closely with these children, I realised so much more about the journeys that they had been on and the support that they needed. They are just children, and have already been through so much, so they need people to show them kindness, compassion and a home when they arrive here.” David and Miranda work hard to strike a balance between integrating their children and young people into British culture and society, whilst ensuring that their own religious beliefs and identities are protected. David said: “All of our foster children have shared the same message with us. They are human. And they are just like everyone else. As foster parents, it’s our responsibility to help them. It is so rewarding when you can watch them grow, and develop and continue to learn more about the world, but in an entirely safe environment. It’s an amazing thing to do.”
Karen Taylor is based in Sheffield, and has a lasting relationship with one of her foster children who was an UASC from Afghanistan.
Karen said: “When our young man arrived in England, he had absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back. He is still in England today, and drops by to say hello. He knocks on the door and shouts ‘hiya mum, how are you?!’ “The most rewarding thing is when you see that these children feel safe with you and start to put their trust in you. For anyone thinking about fostering, I would say that the key is that you have got to be patient! You have got to remember that you chose to be a foster carer, they didn’t choose to be in foster care.”
To find out more about supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children call our friendly fostering team on 0800 023 4562.
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