Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Destitution Amongst Asylum-Seeking and Refugee Children

New research from the Children's Society's West Midlands Destitution Unit ['Destitution Amongst Asylum-Seeking and Refugee Children']has shown what many of us already knew, that there is a "rising tide of destitution often being caused by Britain’s chaotic asylum system either denying them support or limiting them to an amount that is internationally recognised as being inadequate to meet basic human needs."

Since opening its doors in October 2008, the project, like the Society's other centres, has helped hundreds of children from families left destitute because the adults are unable to work and the meagre support available under the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act (£35 in vouchers a week and hostel accommodation) proves insufficient to provide basic essentials (such as food, nappies and clothes), not to mention those who are unable to get any help from the state at all and who live under threat of being taken into care. For all these the Project tries to provide crisis grants and other resources such as emergency food parcels and advice on accessing other forms of non-state support.

According to Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, "Staff based at our projects say they are overwhelmed by the scale of the distress they are dealing with." And this picture is being repeated up and down the country, not just in Children's Society centres but in all the self-supporting groups large and small that have been forced to take up the slack caused by constant cutbacks in state aid. Now Cameron wants to push his 'big society' project as a way of charities and other non-state organisations (and non-organisations even) taking up even more of this 'cutback generated slack', covering his back with a supposed 'big new idea' (courtesy of that incoherent diatribe 'Red Tory: How Left and Right have Broken Britain and How we can Fix It'). Smacks of 'I'm alright Jasper'!

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