The final stage in the government’s pledge to end the detention of children for immigration purposes was completed today, with the opening of new pre departure accommodation for families required to leave the UK.
The new accommodation “Cedars” in Pease Pottage, Sussex, has been designed in partnership with Barnardo’s. Families will stay in a self-contained apartment for a short period immediately before their departure from the UK. They will also have open access to a library, family and youth lounge, and play areas for children.
The opening completes the implementation of the government’s new family returns process for those found to have no right to be in the UK. This process emphasises close engagement with families, providing a range of opportunities for them to take up assisted returns or leave the country voluntarily. The accommodation will only be used as a last resort after advice has been sought from the Independent Family Returns Panel made up of child welfare experts.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
“The opening of the new pre-departure accommodation represents the final stage in the government’s new approach to returning families found to have no right to be in the UK.
“It will be used as a last resort on the recommendation of the Independent Family Returns Panel of child welfare experts, and only after all voluntary return options have failed.
“We will continue to remove people with no right to be in the UK, if they do not take the opportunity to return voluntarily. This facility will allow us to do so in a way that provides more support to children and their families.”
The accommodation and facilities have been developed by the UK Border Agency with advice from Barnardo’s, to ensure the facility is designed with the needs of families in mind. New staff from G4S will help to operate the facility and the teams have undergone specialist training in working with families. No one will be placed there who is assessed to be a risk to the public and the surrounding community.
Barnardo’s South East Regional Director, Michelle Lee-Izu, said:
“Barnardo’s involvement at Cedars goes back to our core purpose – to help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the UK. We are drawing on all of our expertise and experience in order to ensure the provision of high-quality welfare and social care services at the accommodation. We will seek to ensure that families are treated with dignity and respect at all times.”
G4S Operations Director Barry Greenberry said:
“G4S is proud to be involved with Cedars. The health and safety of those people in our care is our top priority. We have unrivalled experience of caring for the some of the most challenging and vulnerable people in society, including children and families. We are confident that our expertise, combined with that of Barnardo’s will ensure the best possible outcomes for residents at Cedars and that they are treated with sensitivity at a traumatic and difficult time in their lives.”