Barnardo’s to run welfare services at centre for failed asylum seekers

Barnardo’s has agreed to run family welfare services at the government’s planned pre-departure accommodation centre for failed asylum seekers.

The centre is part of the government’s pledge to end the detention of children for immigration purposes and have a greater focus on family welfare when dealing with failed asylum seekers.

The centre, on a school site near Gatwick Airport, will have nine apartments for families, surrounded by a 2.3m-high fence. Children can still be held at the centre for up to 72 hours under the government’s plans.

In a speech today, Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie is expected to say she will be concerned if the centre is used routinely rather than as a last resort.

Immigration minister Damian Green said: “It is crucial that the welfare of children remains an absolute priority during the returns process and the use of this new accommodation will be a last resort. It will, however, have an entirely different look and feel to an immigration removal centre, with a high degree of privacy for each family.

“I believe our new approach is both fair and humane. We are providing assistance packages and family conferences to ensure families understand their options, and will be trying to ensure that families can remain in the community prior to their departure home.”