MP calls for new foster carers to take in refugee children

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has spoken of the need to recruit many more foster carers in order to provide homes for refugee children.

Mrs Trevelyan has received more than 100 emails from constituents calling on the UK to take unaccompanied minors from Europe, in particular France and Greece. The majority of these children are teenage boys who will have complex needs and will need specific care.

The Berwick MP is hoping the local people who have contacted her to encourage the UK to take in these children, will consider signing up to become foster carers.

Mrs Trevelyan said: “We have always been, and will continue to be, a nation which provides a safe haven for those fleeing war.

“The reality is that we cannot provide safe haven for all the children that need homes across the Middle East, Syria and Europe. To provide homes for vulnerable children fleeing from war involves a number of practical steps, it is not simply a case of providing funding. In order to provide long-term safety for these children we need foster carers across the UK.

“We need people willing to be trained and vetted as foster carers to commit to long-term provision for these new arrivals as well as those refugee children who are already in the UK. In order to be able to provide safe homes for children we must recruit, vet and train many more foster carers.

“I have written to Northumberland County Council to ask for more information on the current numbers in the county and how the residents who have contacted me on this issue can find out more about taking in vulnerable children themselves. Once I have received a reply, I will be in touch once more.”

Mrs Trevelyan, who voted to accept the new Dubs Amendment, shared the Government’s concern with the previous proposed amendment to take unaccompanied minors who are already in Europe, as it would create extra incentive to child traffickers.

She said: “These people traffickers take the life savings of vulnerable refugees, fill their boats to the brim with families and children, and when the boats sink in the Mediterranean, their bodies are recovered by our British Navy border force vessels.

“In order to prevent this, the unaccompanied children must have been registered as a refugee in their European country of arrival by March 24, 2016. The hope is that this will prevent any more perilous journeys being attempted. I remain concerned about this, but it is on this basis that I have felt able to support the [revised] amendment.”

The Berwick MP also raised the issue of foster carers with the Minister, James Brokenshire MP, in a Commons Urgent Question on the Child Refugee Resettlement programme. The Minister confirmed that there is a need for more people to come forward, particularly to take in teenagers, and that the process takes an average of nine months to train and vet new applicants.

Earlier this week, Northumberland County Council agreed to make an offer to the Government which will see small numbers of Syrian refugees come to live in the county.