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Barnardo's sets out red lines for involvement in Pre-Departure Accommodation

Release Date: 07 Jul 2011

Speaking at an event in central London today, Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie set out the charity’s principles guiding its provision of welfare and social care services to asylum seeking families in the UK Border Agency’s new Pre-Departure Accommodation (PDA) at Pease Pottage, West Sussex.

She outlined Barnardo’s ‘red lines’ and the action it will take if the welfare and dignity of any asylum seeking families and children is at risk.

Anne Marie Carrie said:

Barnardo’s decision to provide welfare and social care services to asylum seeking families at the new pre-departure accommodation goes back to our core purpose; supporting the most vulnerable children in the UK.

"However, I am absolutely clear that if policy and practice fall short of safeguarding the welfare, dignity and respect of families then Barnardo’s will raise concerns, will speak out and ultimately if we have to, we will withdraw our services.

"Barnardo’s goal is to ensure that the whole immigration process supports children.   We already run services across the UK for refugee and asylum seeking families, and from day one Barnardo’s has insisted it should only ever be used as a last resort. I assure you our involvement in the PDA will not stop us campaigning tirelessly on behalf of asylum seeking families".

Barnardo's 'red lines' are as follows:

1. Barnardo’s will speak out about any concerns it has with regards the new immigration process for families.

2. In order for the government to be held accountable to its commitment to end child detention, we insist that it must release figures each year on the number of families returned – be that through voluntary, assisted, required or enforced return. Barnardo’s will withdraw its services if after a year more than 10% of these families are accommodated and returned through the PDA.  As the process is new, we appreciate that it may take time to embed, and so this measure will be introduced after August 2012 – however we would expect to see this figure fall significantly over time.  

3. Barnardo’s will speak out when any family has stayed at the PDA more than once, or for longer than the one week maximum, due to UKBA procedural error. If this occurs more than twice then Barnardo’s will withdraw its services.

4. Barnardo’s will withdraw services if Tinsley House is used as an overflow for families if the PDA is full.

5. Barnardo’s will speak out if the level of force used with a family on route to or from the PDA is disproportionate to the family circumstance.

6. Should Barnardo’s report concerns around any member of staff’s behaviour towards families and children, we would expect there to be an immediate review of personnel at the PDA. If the concerns are of a serious nature Barnardo’s will speak out immediately. Furthermore, if our concerns go unaddressed, Barnardo’s will withdraw our services from the PDA.

7. Barnardo’s insists that a hardship fund is established so that Barnardo’s staff can help families with immediate costs incurred on return to their countries.

Ends

Notes to Editors

1. It was announced in March that Barnardo’s will be working with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to provide welfare and social care within new pre-departure accommodation (PDA) for asylum seeking families, based in West Sussex. Read the initial announcement.

2. Barnardo’s run services across the UK for refugee and asylum seeking families. Services include providing interpreters; offering advice on financial assistance, schooling and healthcare; and specialist foster care for children and young people who arrive here unaccompanied.

3. Today’s event was sponsored by KPMG. The professional services firm has a two-year charity partnership with Barnardo’s.

4. Barnardo’s works with more than 100,000 children, young people and their families in 415 specialised projects in communities across the UK.

5. We believe in the potential of every child and young person, no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in each and every child.

6. Every year we help thousands of children turn their lives around. But we cannot do it without you. Visit our website to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children.