Latest news and updates
Barnardo's will provide welfare services for families at new pre-departure accommodation
10 March 2011
The highly respected children's charity Barnardo's has agreed to deliver key welfare, safeguarding and support services for families at the UK Border Agency's new 'pre-departure' family accommodation.
Last week we announced the national rollout of our radical new child-focused approach to working with families. This will ensure that families with children are treated with compassion and humanity, while also ensuring that those will no legal right to be in the UK can be returned.
The new approach to family returns emphasises close engagement with families, providing a range of structured opportunities for them to take up assisted returns or leave voluntarily. If enforcement action is necessary, the new independent family returns panel will provide expert advice so that family return plans take account of children's welfare. As a last resort, these plans may include the use of pre-departure accommodation.
The new pre-departure accommodation is being designed with the needs of children and families at the fore, and guarantees a high level of privacy for families. They will have free movement around the site, security will be low-key, and the site will not have an institutional feel.
Only a small number of families will be held in pre-departure accommodation. Stays will normally be limited to 72 hours - and never more than 1 week - and Barnardo's will provide support services and help the family prepare for their return during that time.
Family members, including children, may be allowed to leave the pre-departure accommodation following a risk assessment and with suitable supervision.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
'I am very pleased that Barnardo's have agreed to provide welfare, safeguarding and support services for families at our new pre-departure accommodation.
'It is crucial that the welfare of children remains an absolute priority during the returns process, and the use of this new accommodation will be a last resort. It will, however, have an entirely different look and feel to an immigration removal centre, with a high degree of privacy for each family.
'I believe our new approach is both fair and humane. We are providing assistance packages and family conferences to ensure families understand their options, and will be trying to ensure that families can remain in the community prior to their departure home.'
For more information about the child-centred approach and the new 4-stage removal process, see last week's news story.