(Image credit: Liviu Pazargic/Lightstock)
Thirtyone:eight has signed an open letter coordinated by Children England calling on the government to stop housing unaccompanied children in hotels. The letter comes in response to a recent report, Outside the Frame, published by Every Child Protected from Trafficking (ECPAT UK's) that revealed some unaccompanied children arriving into the UK and being placed in hotels are going missing.
The report says: “1,606 children who arrived alone in England between July 2021 and June 2022 were placed in hotel accommodation directly by the Home Office, instead of in the care of local authorities where they could receive the support and protection that, by law, every child in the UK is entitled to. 45 children, some as young as 11, went missing over a 10-month period.” (Source: ECPAT UK).
Children England’s statement underlines the need for urgent action and repeats their concerns of July 2021 that the response of the government should not be to place children in hotels, outside of the care system.
“The care system across all local authorities is severely stretched, and children’s services departments are in the impossible position of having to accept children they don’t have appropriate homes and services to support,” Children England’s statement says.
Thirtyone:eight supports the recommendations in ECPAT UK’s report that hotel accommodation must cease and central government must invest in proper care for children, so that local authorities can accept and support every child who arrives on our shores without a parent or guardian, as the law dictates.
Thirtyone:eight’s overriding concern is for the safety, protection and wellbeing of children. We believe that the inappropriate placement of unaccompanied children is a serious safeguarding threat, and we call upon the government to address this as a matter of urgency.
We support ECPAT UK's call to stop housing unaccompanied children in hotels, and for government to ensure local authorities are empowered and equipped to take these vulnerable children into their care.
While we recognise the complexity of this issue and acknowledge the significant challenges inherent in finding solutions that may require significant structural change, we believe that such decisions cannot be delayed, and we would wish to extend whatever support we can to this effort.
Justin Humphreys, Joint CEO at Thirtyone:eight says:
“We join other charities signing this statement to speak up on behalf of the voiceless. We know that by raising our collective voices we have an opportunity to influence policy in this important area affecting vulnerable children.
Children arriving in the UK in these circumstances are among the most vulnerable in our society. We must make every effort to ensure that they’re appropriately and safely housed in environments where they can be cared for and protected from abuse and exploitation. This is a situation that needs urgent attention.”
You can take action by contacting your local MP and asking them to add their voice. Find out more here: Contact my local MP