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Children Social Services already caring for 30 unaccompanied children in the borough.
With the worlds eyes on Syrian refugees and economic migrants fleeing unstable and war-torn regions, Hackney Council has revealed it is already supporting 30 unaccompanied children and young people who have recently arrived in the borough. Mayor Jules Pipes has also called on the government to “step up its effort”.
In a released statement, the Mayor said: “The terrible scenes being reported from across Europe have moved many people here in the UK to demand that the Government should be doing more. Yesterday, on behalf of London Councils, I made it clear that boroughs across London are standing ready to help should the Government change its mind on the number of refugees it will allow to enter the country.
“Here in Hackney there is a strong history of offering help and support to refugees, such as in the 1970s when the borough became home to hundreds of Vietnamese refugees. We want to stand up and help again. We’re already supporting a number of unaccompanied children and young people who have arrived here over past weeks and months, and are planning for greater numbers should the Government allow more refugees to enter, in particular how we might be able to source accommodation. One thing is clear, central government needs to step up as local government has done and commit funding to allow us to help these families in desperate need”.
Hackney Hive has learned the unaccompanied children are being looked after by children’s social services, so receive the support that any child or young person who cannot live with their family receives. According to a Hackney Council spokesperson: “Local authorities are responsible for providing support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the Children Act 1989 or Children (Scotland) Act 1995)”.
Asked if incoming refugees will be prioritised on the already desperately stretched housing list, the spokesperson said: “Refugees will not be prioritised over those already on the housing list. Given the existing demand for social and affordable housing, it’s likely that we – along with other London boroughs – will need to look to the private rented sector to find homes for refugees settling in Hackney. This would rely on funding from central government and councils across the country that are currently lobbying government, seeking assurances that this funding will be available”.
As of yesterday, Hackney Council was unable to confirm how many refugees they are willing to support, as they still await guidance from the government on how many families to expect and the timeframe. Other councils such as Camden, have committed to resettling up to 20 refugee families at up to £40,000 per year.
Over the weekend, members of the public including Hackneys residents continued to show their compassion and generosity, as they made their way to a donation centre in Haggerston. The Hive Dalston, on Kingsland Road, became a temporary collection centre for CalAid, a volunteer group set up to support refugees and displaced migrants in Calais. was control centre for those wanting to help.