Child's Welfare Paramount?
Branch motion pays dividends as asylum guide
This branch's motion to Scottish
Council in February highlighting the plight of asylum seeker families
and calling for an end to dawn raids has resulted in a number of
initiatives by UNISON Scotland, most recently the launch of a guide
for social work staff working with the children of asylum seekers.
The Guide, "Child's
Wefare Paramount?" was drawn up jointly by UNISON and BASW
(the British Association of Social Workers) and was co-authored
by Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair, along with John Stevenson, UNISON
and Ruth Stark, BASW. The booklet advises on the duties and responsibilities
that social work staff have in dealing with the children of asylum-seekers
and the support they can get.
"We have been very concerned that immigration law compromises
children's rights under Scottish law and the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child. We hope this guide will support our members
in ensuring wherever they can, that the welfare of the child is
paramount. This is a guide for ethical practice and we will not
be part of giving a humane face to inhumane practices like 'dawn
raids'," said Kate.
UNISON Scotland has been in discussion with the Scottish Executive
about the concerns raised in the branch's motion about the impact
on the children of asylum seekers of the practices of the Immigration
A commitment was made by the UK Immigration Minister back in March
to ensure that asylum seekers' children would be assessed and each
would have a lead professional appointed, plus immigration staff
dealing with children would have to have enhanced disclosure checks.
These commitments have not yet been implemented, but pressure is
continuing to be exerted by UNISON following a spate of recent 'dawn
raids' by immigration officials outwith the agreed protocol. At
least one of these raids has resulted in young children being separated
from their parents and driven off by people who were strangers to