Lambeth stands ready to welcome refugee children who arrive in Britain alone after fleeing war-torn regions of the world, ministers have been told.
The Council has contacted the Home Office to signal that the borough is ready to look after unaccompanied young asylum-seekers who come to the UK from camps in Europe.
The move follows David Cameron’s announcement that the UK will take in 3,000 more unaccompanied refugee children, including young Syrians, from Europe. Councils will be contacted in the coming days and told they should be prepared to accept children who are presently in Greece, Italy and France.
Lambeth found homes for two families who arrived in the UK as refugees from Syria earlier this year, the first of 20 families the Council has committed to supporting. A decision about the support Lambeth will be able to offer unaccompanied minors will be made once more details of the scheme are announced.
“Lambeth has a long history of offering refuge to people who have fled the most terrible conditions in other parts of the world,” said a Council spokesman. “When children arrive here as refugees, completely alone after escaping terrible conditions, we have a responsibility to look after them and provide with a home where they can finally feel safe.
“We are waiting for further information from the Government, so we will be able to get on with this vital work as soon as possible.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on ministers to clarify how the resettlement operation will be funded in the long term, and how the children would be dispersed across the country.
A number of community groups and individuals in Lambeth have already called for action to help unaccompanied child refugees. Several more people have asked how they can help the effort to find homes for unaccompanied children arriving in the UK.
It is unclear how the children will be brought to the UK and allocated homes around the country, as the Home Office is still finalising details of the operation. Full details will be provided when they are available.
In the meantime, Lambeth’s specialist fostering and adoption services can offer advice and assistance to anyone who feels they might be able to offer a home to a vulnerable young person, at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/fosteringandadoption/.
The Government announcement on unaccompanied refugee children from Syria is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/unaccompanied-asylum-seeking-children-to-be-resettled-from-europe
Further information on existing arrangements for accepting Syrian asylum-seekers