Children and Families Across Borders: Helping children from conflict zones to join relatives in the UK
Children who have escaped conflict zones around the world to join relatives in this country will get help and support, thanks to a grant of £20,000 from London Freemasons to the Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) charity.
The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
CFAB was established in response to the refugee crisis after World War II. For 67 years, they have identified, protected and reunited children who have become separated from their families across international borders. Many of these children have fled conflict, famine or abuse; others were trafficked here. The charity also helps children who have made their way – often after dangerous journeys and stays in refugee camps – to be reunited with a relative in the UK, as well as those placed in local authority care despite having family abroad who could offer them a loving home. The CFAB’s activities include advice, casework, support for reunited families, training, research and contributing to the debate on kinship care.
The £20,000 grant to CFAB will help 50 children and 100 of their carers under the CFAB’s Family Reunification Support Project, which supports unaccompanied children coming to the UK to join their relatives here. Arriving from countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Ukraine, many are traumatised by their experiences, dangerous journeys and stays in refugee camps.
Many of the children have seen family members killed, have been in danger themselves, experienced great hardship and have lost everything. They may have physical, mental and emotional health issues; including PTSD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, attachment issues and sleep problems. They urgently need practical and emotional support, access to health and education services, help developing a relationship with relatives they may never have met before and with establishing social and support networks. They arrive in the UK with many dreams but often become overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, caught up in a system they do not understand, and can become isolated and disconnected. The relatives with whom they come to live are often uncertain about the benefits and services to which they are entitled. Many have low-paid, insecure jobs or rely on benefits, live in substandard accommodation or suffer from poor health.
As many as 30% of these children end up in care following a breakdown of their relationships with their family members in this country. However, through this project 95% of families will stay together as a result of appropriate support.
Nathalie Scott, Deputy CEO of Children and Families Across Borders, says, “We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant. Our project helps some of the most vulnerable children who have escaped from often terrifying situations in war zones across the world. They have a chance to live with family members in this country but need urgent help to access basic services and sometimes just to stay with their relatives.”
London Freemasons add: “We are very pleased we’ve been able to help CFAB with their wonderful programme. These are children who have been through a terrible time just to get here, with many difficulties facing them once they’ve arrived. Whether it’s helping them access schools and doctors or just helping to keep them with family members in this country, CFAB are doing essential work.”
Thanks to the Freemasons, 50 more unaccompanied children will receive the help and support they need over the next 12 months.