Norfolk could take in more than 50 refugee children who fled to UK on boats
- Credit: PA
Norfolk has taken in almost a dozen child refugees who fled to the UK without their parents in search of asylum, because a fellow council can no longer cope with the numbers.
And Norfolk County Council bosses have pledged to care for a further 25 children, while they say the total figure of youngsters they take in could surpass 50.
Norfolk has responded to a plea for help from Kent County Council, which has seen an increase in children fleeing to the UK via small boats across the English Channel this year.
Kent has reached limits on its ability to safely care for unaccompanied child refugees arriving in Dover.
Norfolk County Council, as a member of a voluntary national transfer scheme, responded and has brought 11 children to the county, with more to follow.
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Kate Dexter, Norfolk County Council’s assistant director of children’s social care, said: “We have taken 11 children from Kent so far, and have also pledged to take a further 25 children, which means 14 more than we pledged previously.
“We are also working to bring many more beds online, so plan to increase our commitment on a weekly basis.
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“The children will be coming to us directly from Dover Port, as Kent’s local authority are unable to attend. We want to ensure we do all we can to support children into appropriate accommodation, with an allocated social worker.
“We are working closely with our colleagues in the South East to support this process, and of course also working closely with the Home Office.
“We are expecting small groups of children to need support on particular days, when the weather has improved and allows for crossings from the continent over the next few days.
“The children will then be brought to Norfolk, after arriving in Dover.
“We will continue to provide more beds for as long as we possibly can; we expect our pledge to continue to grow through the next few weeks, but it’s not possible to give a final figure at this point.
“However, it is quite likely that we could reach a total pledge, including the 11 taken, of more than 50.”
While Norfolk volunteered to help, the government has been consulting over whether to make it mandatory for other councils to take a share of the children.