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Leeds refugee families tell of tough times after fleeing difficulties

Judy Shalkowski, The Childrens Society LEAP programme manager, with Sarah Teather MP, former Childrens Minister, and John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.

Judy Shalkowski, The Childrens Society LEAP programme manager, with Sarah Teather MP, former Childrens Minister, and John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.

  • by Alison Bellamy
 

Refugees and asylum seeking families had the chance to meet the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and a former Government children’s minister as they visited a Leeds charity.

The Right Rev John Packer and Sarah Teather MP were at the Children Society’s LEAP programme in Bramley as part of a Parliamentary inquiry into asylum support and its effect on children’s welfare.

The inquiry, which is being supported by the Children’s Society, is being led by a group of cross-party MPs and peers and aims to explore how children are supported under the Home Office system for asylum.

There has been no formal review of the asylum support system and whether children’s needs are being met since 2009 – when a statutory duty to safeguard and promote children’s welfare came into force.

The issue of asylum support and the Parliamentary inquiry was the reason for the visit from Ms Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, who is leading the inquiry.

After the visit, she said: “We have heard some harrowing stories today from families living in Leeds and what they have been through. Many simply cannot return home.”

She said it is often not easy to live on very little money, especially with young children.

Families have fled terrifying situations in countries such as Ghana and are now living in Leeds, with support from the LEAP programme.

Programme manager Judith Shalkowski said the project helps refugee and asylum-seeking families get the help they are entitled to.

Asylum support has fallen below intended levels and in some cases is 50 per cent lower than mainstream benefits.

Delays are a large part of problems experienced by families in need.

The Rt Rev Packer said: “We have been hearing stories of the delays in the system and the difficulties people are having.

“It is uplifting to hear how welcoming and helpful the people of Leeds have been to asylum seekers and how generous they are and keen to help those in need.”

The inquiry result is due in January next year.

 

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