The media has been preoccupied over recent weeks by the refugee crisis. Fact and figures jostle for attention and the controversy rages as reports of ‘children’ who are in reality young adults, fuels the negative reaction amongst the public as they start arriving here. Charting a way through the rhetoric is important, because the reality is, that as a society, fostering children in desperate need, is simply the right thing to do. More words: so what steps are actually being taken? It is worth considering one particular initiative as it will be possible to assess its effects over the coming months: the Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury have recently launched a scheme to harness the support of community groups to sponsor refugee families. This will embrace a range of organisations: the full community sponsorship scheme will include faith groups, charities, churches and businesses. The hope is they will work to provide support in resettling refugees – which will also include unaccompanied young children – in this country. A dedicated online service to provide assistance to refugees in the UK has also been set up. Its aim is to help any member of the public wishing to provide support to refugees to go about doing this. Specific areas concern housing and fostering children – as well as making donations of goods, such as toys and clothes: visit https://www.gov.uk/help-refugees for more information. Both the overall scheme and the online service have been launched by government to signal their commitment to facilitating the resettlement of refugees into society. Amber Rudd, The Home Secretary has lent her personal support by saying:
“The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance. This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support. I hope that this new approach will help bring communities together and support these often traumatised and vulnerable families as they rebuild their lives, and contribute to and thrive in our country.”
Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the first ‘community group’ to be approved to receive a refugee family. The Archbishop, Justin Welby has added his fulsome support by saying –
“The full community sponsorship scheme presents churches and other civil society groups with the opportunity to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places. Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. It is an enormous privilege to welcome a family to live in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth Council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen.”
Fostering children traumatised by war, conflict and neglect will pose unique problems
In the last few days the Calais camp has begun to be taken down by the French authorities. The reality is that children having arrived here will need to be found foster homes. It is worth noting that, despite the pressures that the fostering sector has long been facing, the recent words of Kevin Williams; chief executive of the leading charity, The Fostering Network, are upbeat:
“Foster carers are already looking after refugee children and young people, and we are very confident that the fostering sector will be able to cope with this increased demand by taking a creative and flexible approach to finding the right homes for these children and young people. However, this will require the right level of financial investment and leadership from the UK’s governments and robust support from social care and the wider community.”
So the government can be seen to be providing support in terms of coordinating and facilitating, but the caveat is expressed that financial investment will be needed. Fostering children who come from places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria will mean a real effort directed toward finding foster families from these communities. Putting families forward who can offer a shared language and culture has to be the best way to start dealing with the psychological trauma these children and young people suffer from. Resources should be allocated to encourage and motivate these communities to come forward and rally to the task of fostering children. What better symbol could there be of demonstrating we are a United Kingdom in spirit and not mere words alone. And government can and make this happen.
Fostering children: our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ are there to be claimed
Now is the time to seriously consider fostering children? Or many people have a preference for fostering babies. Wherever your interest is, Rainbow is a London fostering agency making available the highest quality fostering services. We would be delighted to pay you £500 should you be able to make a referral. The money will be paid over as soon as that person has been approved and taken their first foster child. And remember, any existing foster carer considering transferring to Rainbow Fostering Services will also receive a generous bonus under our scheme. This will be a £2000 bonus once approved, for carers who have children already placed with them on a long-term basis, and £500 for any foster carers who do not have children placed with them. As an independent fostering agency, we want our Rainbow Rewards to offer a real incentive. Call our fostering recruitment team today on 020 8427 3355 to discuss.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…we are looking forward to the task of judging the entrants to our ‘Fabulous Firework’ and our ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ competitions. It might be fun, but it won’t be easy.