Cabinet will discuss whether up to 27 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have arrived in England, mainly via boat in Kent, can be given refuge and housed in Southend.
The arrival of migrants in Kent has escalated in recent months and due to the numbers of vulnerable young people arriving, authorities in Kent are unable to accept any more new children to their care. The Home Office has requested all local authorities offer support.
The report recommends a one-year temporary funding increase of £122,000 for a dedicated social worker and two personal assistants to work with the children.
Cllr Laurie Burton, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “These children are alone and need the help, support and assistance of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to carve out a new life, away from war torn countries, organised crime groups, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation. I can’t imagine the situations they have escaped from and how scary the sea crossing must have been, especially without their parents or family.
“This is a small number of children, but it will make a huge and impactful difference to their young lives, and as the report suggests, if they arrive two children per month, our local services should not become overwhelmed. If we don’t agree to this, we will be neglecting our national responsibility to help vulnerable young people so I hope my colleagues realise the importance of this work and the recommendations are adopted.”
The 27 children recommended in the report is 0.07% of the overall population of children in Southend and is in line with what other authorities are offering.
The report outlines the work with the Home Office to speed up the processing of determining the applications for settled status, which can take months, and this prevents young adults receiving benefits. It also discusses the impact the additional workload will have on the existing team of social workers.
The report will be discussed at cabinet on Tuesday 14 September 2021.