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Guidance for social workers issued as groups warn vulnerable asylum seekers in Scotland are not getting the services they are entitled to

Date of Publication: 
7 November 2017
Summary: 

New guide for those working with asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland

Guidance for social workers issued as groups warn vulnerable asylum seekers in Scotland are not getting the services they are entitled to

07 November 2017
EIN

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) and UNISON Scotland yesterday released new guidance for social workers and social care practitioners providing a service to asylum seekers and refugees, in particular children.

You can read it here.

Upon releasing the guidance, SASW and UNISON warned that vulnerable asylum seekers in Scotland are not getting the services they are entitled to because of the lack of support, advice and resources available to the social workers responsible for assisting them.

Holyrood.com quoted UNISON's Stephen Smellie as saying: "It is increasingly common for social workers across Scotland to have to intervene in the lives of asylum seekers and their children, who have come to this country from devastated areas of the world. For many social workers this is complex legal framework which is new to them. It can be distressing to be caring for such vulnerable children who are denied the vital support they need.

"The guide we are launching today provides general guidance, signposts and more detailed information sources. It will give social workers more confidence that they are doing the right thing, especially for vulnerable asylum seeker children. It will be a useful tool for negotiating with employers to ensure that the right resources are put in place, including awareness training and staffing."

The guide provides an overview of relevant legislation and codes of practice, as well as looking at practice issues and professional dilemmas such as age assessments and the separation of children from their families.

SASW's Tim Parkinson said: "It's really important that social workers at all levels are fully informed about relevant legislation and people's rights in all situations. They have a responsibility in their code of practice and professional ethics, to make the right professional decisions and to work with their employers to enable people's rights and entitlements."

The guidance states: "It is clear that progressive Scottish legislation, designed to meet and support the needs of children with the central principle that the child’s welfare is paramount, is compromised by immigration legislation. This is the greatest dilemma for social workers – acting as part of a system that seems intrinsically oppressive."

It continues: "Practitioners should not collude with practices and processes that do not have childrens’ interests at their heart. It is not a social work role to put a humane face on inhumane processes – but where possible social workers should do all they can to promote a child’s interests. That should include using all the legislation we have at our disposal and being prepared to intervene and challenge within the parameters of the SSSC Codes of Practice, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Act 1998. We should expect the support of our agencies in doing that."