New support helps asylum seeking children make new lives in Devon
The county of Devon is providing a chance to start life afresh free from fear for children who have arrived on their own in the UK having fled conflict in their native countries.
Devon has welcomed unaccompanied children seeking asylum since 2015 when under a Home Office programme up to 70 children, displaced from refugee camps outside Calais, were transferred to Devon.
Most moved quickly through the county to be reunited with relatives across the UK. A few remained and have since settled well to life in Devon.
Since then a further 41 children have arrived as part of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme, and as referrals from Immigration, Police or by other local authorities.
Devon County Council is part of the response in helping such children settle as quickly and easily into new lives.
It’s just commissioned Space*, which used to be the Devon Youth Service, and Young Devon, to support the children in their local communities, helping them integrate into new home lives, schools and becoming active members of society.
It’s now looking for members of the public to join a team of skilled volunteers and mentors to enable children and young people to do that; to be better connected with their local communities, and to make use of Devon’s support networks, facilities and activities.
It's a pilot that will initially run for a year.
Councillor James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for children and young people said: “I’ve met some of the children who have moved to Devon, and heard their stories of the hardship and danger that they’ve fled from. And to hear how much it means to them to now be living without that fear is amazing. They don’t have their parents or brothers and sisters, and when they arrived they knew no one. Start to imagine that as an adult and it’s frightening enough, but to imagine that experience as a child or young person, and it easy to see how vital the work is to help a child find safety and security, and chance to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible.
“Devon is a good home, and there is an enormous amount of good will in the county from residents who, seeing where children seeking asylum are fleeing from, are doing all they can to help their transition.
“We want to appoint volunteers to work with young people. Excellent training and ongoing support for our volunteers will be provided by our experts at Space* and Young Devon, who have many years of experience in bringing people together, especially those young people who may find themselves on the margins of society.
“You’ll be helping young people to make friends, learn languages, know who to ask for help when they need it, and to share their stories, which are things that most people take for granted.”
Kev Henman, CEO at Space* said: “I’m delighted that we, along with Young Devon and others, will be delivering essential support services to enable this group of young people to integrate successfully into local communities. Our services will be co-designed with the young people and tailored to particular needs. We look forward to working with volunteer mentors across Devon to enable this to happen.”
Andy Moreman, CEO of Young Devon said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to support a group of young people in Devon who have faced some real challenges in life. Working in partnership with Space* is great – two organisations who have passion for youth work and enabling young people to grow and develop in Devon.”
To find out more about the opportunity to become a volunteer, please contact Space* at http://www.spacepsm.org, or contact them via social media @spacepsm. To find out more generally about fostering with Devon County Council visit the Fostering Devon website, http://www.fosteringindevon.org.uk, or call them on 0345 155 1077. For information specific to fostering children seeking asylum, visit http://www.fosteringindevon.org.uk/unaccompanied-asylum-seeking-children