Families with school-age children housed in temporary accommodation, some for as long as six months, are suffering delays and barriers to registering for crucial early years and primary education.
Our Family Rights Service supports several families who have stayed in hotels for extended periods with children missing out on school and nursery placements.
Of these families, several had to wait for periods of up to nearly six months for their child to be enrolled in school.
That’s six months in which a family has no choice but to raise their children in an often very cramped conditions, with restricted resources and limited access to safe outdoor space.
There are still children living with their families in hotels who are not enrolled in school.
Our Asylum Services Manager Esther Muchena said “When a family is placed into temporary accommodation, they simply do not know how long they will be housed there. It should just be a very temporary placement, for three or four weeks maximum. But now we are seeing families stuck in hotel rooms for periods of up to six months. These are months in which children and families are living in limbo. This type of extended uncertainty has a huge impact on the whole family’s wellbeing and children’s development. Hotel accommodation cannot meet a child’s need to play, thrive and develop safely.
“When you don’t know how long you’ll be housed somewhere, it’s very difficult to make meaningful decisions for your family to move on with their lives. No one wants to enrol their child in primary school while living in temporary accommodation without knowing when and where their next move will be. It is hugely disempowering and stressful for parents who are already coping with the anxiety and insecurity of finding their way through the asylum system and adjusting to life in a new country.
“Unfortunately, these cases are symptomatic of wider issues in the UK’s asylum system. The delays within the system right now are leaving people at breaking point.
“These delays are the worst I have ever seen in 17 years of working with families seeking protection in Glasgow.
“It’s heart breaking to see the asylum system falling into pieces like this.”
The UK Government’s Nationality & Borders Bill will increase the use of institutional accommodation, like hotels or so called ‘reception centres’.
We’re seeing even more evidence of the damage this kind of accommodation can do to individuals, families and children. It’s appalling that the UK Government just isn’t paying attention to reality and working to ending this practice immediately.
Our Family Rights service is there to support families with children from 0-18 who are going through the asylum process and can offer support on everything from healthcare and housing to education, welfare and legal assistance.