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Dorset Council has voted to support Safe Passage (Dorset) – provided that the government fully funds the programme.

Safe passage is calling upon every local authority across the country to commit to accepting a minimum of three unaccompanied or vulnerable refugee children per year every year for the next ten years. These will be children from authenticated agencies such as The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) working with the UK Home Office. They would arrive by a safe and legal route, not as spontaneous arrivals.

Gillingham councillor Valerie Pothecary, vice chairman of Dorset Council, who proposed the motion at last week’s council meeting, said: ‘I’m truly delighted to be asked to put this motion forward. It is a wonderful opportunity for Dorset Council to show its support, across all parties, for this humanitarian project.’

Valerie Pothecary
Gillingham councillor Valerie Pothecary

Dorset Council’s fostering team is working with Safe Passage (Dorset) to recruit foster carers to find safe and loving homes for these and other children in Dorset.

There are many different types of foster care. Placements can be short, long-term, or provide respite for other foster carers or parents. The children needing care range from babies to18-year olds. Some children are disabled, have special educational needs or are unaccompanied migrant children of all ages.

Claire Shiels, Corporate Director for Commissioning and Partnerships at Dorset Council, said: ‘We are proud to support refugees here in Dorset. We’re already part of the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme and are pleased to have resettled 15 families across the county. We also support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and have helped 20 young people so far.

‘Last November, Dorset County Council supported the Safe Passage scheme in principle, providing it was funded by the Government. Members agreed that the motion would need to go to the new Dorset Council.’

To find out more about Safe Passage visit safepassage.org.uk.

To enquire about becoming a foster carer visit fosterindorset.co.uk.

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