Aberdeenshire UNISON

Child's Welfare Paramount?

Branch motion pays dividends as asylum guide launchedAsylum 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 Service.

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 them.