New funding boosts support for asylum-seeking children

Extra funding to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) living in Oxfordshire has been received by the county council.

A government grant worth £335,000 has been awarded to help strengthen the support services available to UASCs over the next two years. It is part of a wider national funding announcement of £29million.

The council has the same responsibilities for looking after UASCs arriving in the county as it does for all other children and young people in care. Young asylum-seekers are among the most vulnerable groups in society – often with no connections or family in the UK, little spoken English and having made long and traumatic journeys.

The new money is not for covering the cost of care placements themselves, but for additional support to help UASCs adjust to living in the county, and integrate with local communities.

This includes:

  • Training for professionals across services working with children, to improve understanding of the needs of UASCs and the support professionals are able to provide.
  • Working with school and college staff to help UASCs make a successful transition into education. This will include supporting schools and colleges to work together to share knowledge and expertise.
  • Improving access to counselling and therapy for UASCs, as well as positive leisure activities to help them meet new people and improve their language skills.

Responding effectively

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families Steve Harrod said: “Like many other parts of the country, Oxfordshire has seen a rise in the number of UASCs arriving in the last couple of years. It’s vital that we can continue to ensure we are responding effectively to this challenge, and are able to provide the support these vulnerable young people need to thrive.”

The council currently looks after 52 UASCs. These young people have predominantly travelled from Afghanistan, Albania and Eritrea.