Released: 11 March 2020
A teenager who fled his home in Afghanistan is encouraging people in West Sussex to think about fostering an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.
Naqeeb arrived in the UK at the age of 16 in 2015. Like many of the millions of refugees who have made long and dangerous journeys to escape violence and persecution, Naqeeb had to leave his family behind to travel here on his own.
Naqeeb, now 20, was found foster care through West Sussex County Council and has shared his experience as part of a new campaign highlighting the need for more foster carers in West Sussex.
“My foster family really helped me a lot,” Naqeeb said. “She taught me about English culture, she took me to a community club and I’m glad she did, I met my first English friends there. She also helped me to be a good cook!”
The ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ campaign also features a video of Worthing-based foster carers Rose and Phil, retired teachers who foster a teenager who is also from Afghanistan.
Rose said: “Our boy’s been with us for three years now, and we treat him as one of the family. He came to both our birth children’s weddings and we took him on his first holiday. One of the great joys for us has been the improvement in his English.
“The county council provides courses on a wide variety of subjects, including coping with mental health issues, adolescence and preparing for adult life. The monthly support groups are informal and a great way to share experiences with other carers and we have access to social events as well.”
In 2018 alone, an estimated 32% of asylum seekers who arrived in Europe were children.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who arrive in the UK are taken into the care of the local authority. If it is not possible to trace a suitable family member or guardian, these children are placed in foster care or supported lodgings accommodation.
Currently there not enough foster carers in West Sussex for young people like Naqeeb – but the new campaign aims to change that. Since launching a month ago the two videos have had over 100,000 views which have led to a number of positive enquiries and initial visits from our fostering recruitment team.
Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We have a duty of care to all of our vulnerable children in the county. Our foster carers are truly special people who possess special qualities, namely patience, dedication, resilience and above all empathy. I am very proud of the care and support our foster carers provide.
“Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children come into our care isolated and afraid, having often been subjected to abuse and trauma. These are children in need of extra support and we know how rewarding it is for people like Rose and Phil to see the difference they can make to a young person’s life.”
Along with allowances and specialist training, we provide carers with their own supervising social workers as part of a network of professional support around the child.
Watch videos of Naqeeb and Rose and Phil tell their stories and for further information on fostering telephone 033 022 27775.
Or come along to one of our upcoming information evenings:
• Wednesday 18 March 2020 - Committee Room 2, Chichester County Hall, West Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RG - 6.30pm to 8.30pm
• Monday 20 April 2020 - Bodium Room, County Hall North, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XH - 6.30pm to 8.30pm
• Wednesday 20 May 2020 - Committee Room 4, Centenary House, Durrington Lane, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 2PQ - 6.30pm to 8.30pm