UASC children are just that, children. They are vulnerable young people who need to be looked after, cared for and give a safe place to stay.

Fostering Advice

Providing a Safe Haven: Fostering UASC Refugees

September 28th, 2021

In 2020, the number of applications to find refuge in the UK from Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC Refugees) was 2,773. This is set to rise significantly in 2021 due to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

The effects of conflict and unrest have left thousands of children without a place to call home. We are looking for foster parents who can offer a safe place to live for these vulnerable children.

Who Can Care for UASC Refugees?

Children and young people arrive in the UK, often England, after treacherous journeys from Afghanistan and other war-torn countries. Each child is in need of a stable home where they can feel protected, away from harm.

Our foster carers are fantastic examples of resilient people who go above and beyond for our children and young people. Each of our carers have the opportunity to train as a UASC carer, giving a child the best possible start in a new and unknown country.

A positive word, a welcoming hug, or even just a bed to get some sleep in will be a comfort to children who have often had dangerous and long journeys. Food on the table and just knowing that someone is there for them can be the life changing actions that you could offer. Each child and young person are all in need of a considerate home where they can feel safe and encouraged in their education.

UASC children are just that, children. They are vulnerable young people who need to be looked after, cared for and given a safe place to stay. Keeping a young person safe, providing them with shelter and a caring household is what they will need.

The facts

Countries which often feature in the ten most common places of origin of asylum seekers over recent years are are Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, and Pakistan. In 2020 there were substantial increases in the number of applications from Eritrea, Sudan and Syria.

The vast majority of UASC children that make it over to a country alone are 16 and over. In 2020 the age distribution of UASC applications in the UK was:
• Aged 16 and over: 78%
• Aged 14 – 15: 20%
• Aged under 14: 2%

There are also a small number of cases which are recorded as ‘age unknown’. The ‘age unknown’ category is not related to age disputed cases.

The National Transfer Scheme has been running in the UK since July 2016. The aim is to share the responsibility for looking after unaccompanied asylum seeking children between local councils. It allows for a council which has ‘more than a defined proportion of unaccompanied children to refer new arrivals to another region or council’.

What is important to remember that behind these numbers are individual children, vast numbers of them have suffered from trauma, and have ongoing mental health issues like PTSD.

Because of the circumstances these highly vulnerable children have faced, unaccompanied or trafficked children often have complex needs in addition to those faced by looked after children in the UK, more generally.

Drawing by UASC child
This is a drawing by our young person F, age 15. Representing his feelings about his previous experiences, compared to where he is now.

E’s Story

Our young person, E, fled his home country of Eritrea when he was just 16. If he had stayed, he could have faced being enlisted as a solider, or being arrested and tortured. There is no constitution, no elections and nothing like independent free press.

He came to live with our carers, Christine and William in 2017. E had experienced what no teenager should, he was living with the lasting effects of PTSD from his traumatic journey from his home country to England and knew no one.

Our UASC foster parents made sure to go over and above to make sure that E settled into his new home well. They enrolled him in school, helped him learn the English language and helped him to flourish in his education.

Lucky for E, Christine used to be a cooking teacher, so he was provided with his own private cooking classes in the family kitchen. She helped him to cook his favourite Eritrean dishes, making sure to uphold and champion his heritage. William and Christine both worked hard to drive him to his nearest Eritrean church, where he was offered additional support and could build a real community with those who had the same culture as him.

When E turned 18 and was legally declared an adult, he didn’t feel ready to leave the foster home. With agreement from the local authority, his social worker and Compass, he was entered into a ‘staying put’ arrangement with his foster carers, meaning he could stay in his foster home and continue to feel supported until he felt ready to move on.

We provide our carers with support for applications and training to help young people just like E, so children and young people like him can flourish in a new and unfamiliar country.

E is now 20 years old and living in independent accommodation. Before Covid, he was having digital contact with his mother, who was back in Eritrea. In March of 2020, his mum was permitted permanent leave to remain in the UK. But sadly, due to Covid, this was pushed back significantly.

In September of 2021, E and his mother were finally reunited in England! They now live together, with E currently studying at college. He has thrived in his education and still talks to his foster carers.

If you think you have what it takes to be a UASC foster parent, please get in touch with us. We are looking for resilient, caring people to join the Compass family.

Read one of our carer’s experiences and advice for fostering UASC.

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