Responding to a crisis: our work with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Calais
In 2016, St Christopher’s cared for 38 unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors under the Dubs agreement when refugee camps in Calais were shut down. We were asked by the Home Office to be part of the solution to caring for children on their arrival in the UK, and were pleased and proud to welcome some of the very first children who came over and to ensure that they were safe and felt welcomed and cared for.
As these children needed caring for urgently, staff from across our teams pulled together to open a new home in just a few days and volunteered to cover extra shifts to ensure the children were looked after. These first young people stayed only for a few days until the Home Office and local authorities had arranged for their safe reunification with their families, but we hope that we made their journeys to this country a little less scary.
Staff went above and beyond, including picking children up from the airport, and on one occasion accompanying them to Ireland to meet up with their family, as well as ensuring that the children were protected from the intensive media coverage at the time.
Some of these young people arrived with nothing, so colleagues made generous donations of toiletries, non-perishable food items, clothing and some games to entertain the young people who were arriving in London. Fifty bags worth of donations also arrived from our corporate partners.
Thank you so much to all the staff who made this work. With very little time everyone pulled together and worked as a well-oiled machine to get everything set up for these young people. We hope they felt welcomed to the UK and are looking forward to starting their lives here.
But this was not the first time St Christopher’s has worked with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We have worked with young refugees for many years, so our staff are skilled at integrating children from all backgrounds in creative ways. With our support, young people from all over the world have had a head start at settling into life in their new communities in the UK.
We could not make a difference to all these young people’s lives without your support. Please help us carry on creating brighter futures by making a donation or supporting our charity in other ways – it really does go a long way.