Monday, December 18, 2006

Outrageous!

At First Born's school, there are a number of unaccompanied children who come into the country as refugees. At the age of 14+, they live alone and have to cope with their traumatic past and complex present with no adult support apart from that provided by the school.

Now get this - these children are NOT entitled to free school meals!

How can this be possible?
Because the application form has to be completed by a parent or guardian and these children have neither!

Is this just a ridiculous feature of an uncaring bureaucracy?
No - it's worse than that. It's a deliberate attempt by this miserable government to fend off criticism about people coming into the country and claiming benefits.

Is this acceptable?
If you have to ask that question, I have no answer you would wish to hear ...

6 comments:

crimeficreader said...

Debi,

The first thing that shocks me here is that children of 14+ are accepted into this country and then left alone to their own devices, apart from school!
I am so angry to think that we could do that in this country.

I'm sure that children of such an age are difficult, more so due to the circumstances that got them here. But to be left alone? That is not right. Why on earth does this happen and what can be done to give these children a good home and some guidance in life, in what to them is a foreign country?

Debi said...

Cfr - I share your anger and frustration.

Yet these facts are hidden from so many people behind the shrieking media whipping up hatred and fear and pandered to by the government.

This is the reality and people should know about it!

DBA Lehane said...

IF this is ACTUALLY happening then Social Services should be informed. NO minor who is either a refugee or awaiting a final decision on any immigration application should be living alone. Up to the age of 16 they should be within a specialist care programme and are never left to their own devices.

As to School Dinners...all refugees are paid in vouchers. It's down to schools/caterers/local authorities as to whether they are acceptable to them!

Debi said...

I've been waiting for you to comment on this one, Lehane!

Social services are perfectly aware of this situation which I can assure you definitely is happening. No - these children should not be living alone but that is the case. (Not strictly speaking 'alone' as they have each other in shared accommodation ...)

I presume they do get vouchers - but with other people on benefits, free school lunches are IN ADDITION to their other benefits.

Fortunately this school takes its responsibilities very seriously and goes well beyond their official duties. They won't take the children's vouchers but give them free school lunches (often the only decent meal these kids get) from the school budget.

DBA Lehane said...

Debi,

The simple fact of these cases is that there is a strict legal requirement on Social Services to ENSURE the wellbeing of these minors. In fact all Government agencies have very very strict minors care systems in addition to the legal requirements in place. If you and others believe this is not the case in this instance then this should be highlighted immediately to the Government Minister responsible for Social Services via your local MP.

However, let's not forget that these children are now going to school, have a roof over their head, are being fed and SHOULD be getting all the support expected for a minor...something they would have not been getting wherever they have fled from. It's easy to condemn the failings in a system, but these failings are actually a massive improvement on what they have come from.

And, I can assure you, these children never made it to the UK alone, in many many cases there are "hidden" adult family mmbers working the system to their own benefit, whilst the bleeding hearts fall over themselves to protest against those actually trying to support these children.. There are agents and facilitators that have brought them here, being paid for by families in the originating country and the extended and hidden families here. It's easy to be outraged when you only see and get one side to a story...whether it be the Daily Mail or the Guardian/Independent headline viewpoint on the conflicting extremes.

But I have to say, and I hate having to say it, this post is dangerously misleading in making people think refugee minors are left to fend for themselves and to their own devices in the UK, as the first comment from crimeficreader proves. Nothing could be further from the truth and if it is happening, as you assure here, heads would roll and prosecutions likely to take place. Surely that responsibility lies with you now to ensure action?

Minx said...

However these children came to be in this situation is irrelevent, as is trying to shut ones eyes and think that it can't possibly happen. Social services are hideously under-staffed and there are not the facilities to house people who do not come under 'normal' bounds.
I agree that it should not be happening but also know that there a massive holes in the system that allow such things to pass un-noticed. That is, of course, until there is some dreadful tragedy which brings the whole matter to light.
Let us not forget that the whole Surestart programme - dedicated to ensuring the welfare of chilren under seven, came about after the horrible abusive death of a little girl who had slipped through the system. The people who knew what was happening to her were too frightened, or ignorant of a child's rights, to stand up be counted.
I salute you Debi and hope fervently that this is brought to the attention of people who can do something about it, and if it has caused a reaction, then good - questions should be asked.

I would also like to add that the Surestart programme is now in serious decline. The original monies pumped into this new initiative are now being directed elswhere - lip serveice paid no doubt.