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Could you, would you, should you? Fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

24.06.21

This story was written by our foster carers

If we can, you can!

My husband Ian and I started fostering 6 years ago. We were both experienced primary school teachers with three birth children aged 14,10 and 8 so we decided that we’d be best suited to look after children of 11 years and younger. However, when we went to panel for the first time, we were persuaded to add children up to the age of 18 to our approval. Nevertheless, we were convinced that we were ‘agreeing on paper only’ as teenagers were far too scary!

I would suggest “yes”.

Making a home for an Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child

It’s fortunate that we did, as we have only fostered teenagers since then including 3 Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children. And guess what? It hasn’t been that scary…

Would you?

Well why not?

You are foster carers, so you have plenty of patience and open minds.
We’ve found that it’s been a great opportunity for the whole family to find out about the wider world and its customs, beliefs and values.

We’ve learnt about, and been treated to home cooked Vietnamese food. Discussed the differences and similarities between Afghan and British housing. And learnt about farming in Iraq.

We’ve had the pleasure of viewing the everyday with awe and disbelief. E.g. a trip to the ATM where “money comes out of walls” and to the supermarket which is “so big and sells everything, I’ve heard about them, but didn’t believe they existed!” We’ve learned about the Asylum process and supported visits to solicitors and The Home Office.

Well that all sounds manageable, doesn’t it?

Should you?

So, what’s the catch?

Well, obviously, it’s not all plain sailing. There will be misunderstandings, disagreements and disappointments.

As English will not be your young person’s first language you will have to explain, repeat, point, demonstrate, and translate over and over again, day in, day out. There will still be times when you or they will ‘get the wrong end of the stick’ and be quite affronted.

Food will need to be sourced, cooked and eaten in different ways to what you may be familiar with so you will need to be resourceful and resilient.

When our Young Person from Afghanistan arrived just before Christmas 2019 I visited every supermarket in our town searching for Halal meat. I was unsuccessful and getting rather desperate so I phoned K (the young person from Iraq) who had moved on from us and he arranged for some to be delivered to the door!

If you need help, there’s more support out there than you might think. The Refugee Council will advise on Asylum claims and Trafficking issues and The British Red Cross will help trace family members your young person has lost touch with. You may even find that your local area has support groups or services like mine e.g. here in Folkestone, Kent we have KRAN (Kent Refugee Action Network) which provides schooling, life skill lessons, social events and mentoring.

Think about it, it might be just the match for you!

If you think you’re ready to start your fostering journey, or would like some more information – enquire today.

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