Cllr Stephen Cowan talks to child refugees in Calais

Compassion informs everything we do in H&F

H&F Leader Stephen Cowan has been working closely with Lord Dubs for several years to bring “Dubs children” (unaccompanied refugee children in Europe) to safety in the UK.

So far, H&F Council has welcomed 20 Dubs children - the most in the UK - which is on top of the 26 refugee children H&F has taken through the government’s voluntary National Transfer Scheme (NTS). This month, following a visit to what is left of “The Jungle” in Calais by the Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Cllr Stephen Cowan and Lord Dubs, the council doubled its target for welcoming Dubs children, from 100 to 200.

H&F is the only council to send social workers into refugee camps to assess their legal rights and assist NGOs on the ground who are seeking to have the UK government follow through on the commitments it made (Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016) to take its fair share of unaccompanied children.

H&F is also the only council whose social workers are working with an NGO (Safe Passage) in Greece to help bring children to safety in the UK.

The H&F leader visited the Calais jungle (at his own expense) before its demolition, and together with a team from Channel 4 News last year he also visited the Moria Camp on the Greek Island of Lesbos, home to over 7,000 refugees.

H&F took part in a legal action against the UK Government to enable it to take a suicidal Syrian 14-year-old from a detention centre in Greece. Although the Council lost that case, after the boy attempted suicide for a second time the government relented. He's now in the care of H&F Council living in Shepherds Bush. This makes H&F the first council to bring a Dubs child directly from Greece.

Cllr Stephen Cowan said: “Children should always have faith that adults will act to protect them from danger and keep them safe. That’s why in Hammersmith and Fulham we’re increasing the care and support we offer to local children. It’s also why we are not prepared to look the other way when we are facing the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War and why we’re offering to welcome 200 vulnerable refugee children to our borough if the government confirms it will fully fund their care.”

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