Destitution amongst asylum-seeking and refugee children
This publication looks at the growing numbers of asylum-seeking children, young people and their families who have fallen into destitution. The findings in this report are based on the first year of a project by The Children's Society which has helped 264 asylum-seeking children in the West Midlands whose families do not have sufficient means to survive. This is because adult family members are neither able to access the help they need from the State, nor to work or claim benefits. The project thus provided these children's families with crisis grants and resources, and access to advice to help them resolve their situation.
The report combines an overview of the inadequate support system in place to address these issues, with personal accounts of asylum-seeking children who face destitution. It first describes the British policy context, then provides some background on the families and describes the destitution they face. It is argued that growing destitution is the result of Britain's problematic asylum system which either denies asylum-seeking families support or limits support to an amount that is inadequate to meet basic human needs as set by international standards. In addition to a summary of the existing policies and support applicable to those seeking asylum, a third section formulates the following recommendations:
• Families should benefit from more resources and support at the beginning of the asylum process, in order to ensure they get a fair hearing on their asylum case.
• All families should be provided with support and access to healthcare while they are in the UK, regardless of immigration status, especially if there are children involved.
• One single agency should be tasked with providing support to families, with suitably trained and funded professionals.
• Children who were born or brought up in the UK should not be forced to leave.
• Women who become destitute because of domestic violence should be supported immediately, regardless of immigration status