In May this year, my husband, Martin, and I agreed to the idea of having one of the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) live with us. We have a spare room and we are in reasonable distance of Chichester College but above all there was a person in need of a home.
In June we started the process based on that for foster carers, and a social worker came to visit us once a week or fortnight for about two months. We built up a good rapport with our social worker who sat alongside us at the ‘Panel Interview’. The Panel Chair explained the procedure and introduced us to each of the five members of the Panel. It had felt daunting beforehand, but the reality was much easier.
The Panel unanimously approved us and five days later on 11 September, our student, let’s call him John, started living with us. I knew him as he had lived at The Foyer for over a year and Sanctuary in Chichester had been in contact with him during that time. John is appreciating living in a home with a cat and garden.
He has settled remarkably quickly and made himself at home helping with household chores, including cooking. His English is good and fast improving with our support; and his enthusiasm makes him an excellent student. We hope he will continue to thrive with us.
Hopefully, Martin and I are forerunners for many other local people to assist asylum seekers in this way. We are getting paid, and both our social worker and John’s social worker keep in regular contact during this settling in period.