Monday, 5 November 2012

Stateless, homeless and on the streets - some children in modern Britain

It is hard not to feel a chill reading the BBC’s account of homeless, stateless young people living on the streets of London and other British towns and cities.

Now one knows exactly how many such young people there are but it is known that numbers run into hundreds. The BBC article says:

“Some stateless children are as young as 14. With no support, shelter or care, they are increasingly turning to crime to survive.”

The most worrying part of the whole story is the suggestion that some local authorities are trying to avoid taking responsibility for these young people, despite having a legal duty to care for them.

I would argue that this kind of problem is a national, not a local, issue; with homeless young people from all over the country congregating in particular areas. A central fund to assist local authorities that are disproportionately affected would go some way to easing the pressure.

And young people in these circumstances need to be reassured that if they come forward asking for help they will not be wrongly categorised as adults and arrested and deported by the immigration authorities. Fear of deportation is part of the problem – not a solution to it.