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Renfrewshire Council steps up efforts to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

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Renfrewshire Council is set to be one of the first local authorities in Scotland to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have arrived in the UK having fled conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.

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A report to the council’s Leadership Board (on Wednesday September 14) recommends that Renfrewshire takes forward its own programme in advance of a national transfer scheme which is being developed by the UK Home Office.

Renfrewshire would agree support arrangements with the Home Office and the Care Inspectorate to provide care and support for the young people to integrate into communities.

A small number of children and young people in those circumstances could arrive in Renfrewshire in the next few months.

Over 80 Syrian refugees – all of them in family groups – have already settled in Renfrewshire over the past year. Their successful integration into the local community has prompted the council to look at other options to support unaccompanied children or vulnerable children seeking asylum.

Currently over 1000 young people in that position are receiving support from Kent County Council having fled countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.  The UK Government is aiming to move to a national transfer protocol to redistribute this population of children and young people more evenly across the UK.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said:  “Renfrewshire has the experience, the support structure, and the community involvement to make a difference in helping these young people build new lives here.

“There has been tremendous support from individuals, community groups, and public agencies in Renfrewshire to first welcome and then help integrate refugees from the Syrian conflict.

“That is why we are proposing to take forward a local scheme –  which can fit into national programs as they develop – and which can be put in place quickly over the next few months.

“We can help provide a safe and secure home for vulnerable children and young people who have been displaced by conflict.”