YMCA DownsLink Group is one of the largest charities providing services to children and young people across communities in Sussex, including supported accommodation for young unaccompanied asylum seekers. We are gravely concerned that separated children who are seeking asylum are going missing, suspected of being trafficked and criminally exploited, from hotels in Hove and along the Sussex and Kent coast where they have continued to be accommodated by the Home Office.
This is despite urgent requests from a range of agencies to Ministers and government departments to discontinue this practice and evidence that these children face significant harm. We add our voice to the 100 charities, led by ECPAT UK, who have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak requesting the end to this practice immediately and an urgent independent inquiry given these significant matters of public concern following the reported failures to protect vulnerable children from harm. (Download the open letter here)
Hove MP, Peter Kyle, was given special permission as a Shadow Cabinet member to speak in the Commons and gave an emotional speech on the issue (listen here). As an organisation that cares for vulnerable young people across Sussex and Surrey we were struck by his words:
“The uncomfortable truth for us is if one child who was related to one of us in this room went missing the world would stop, but in the community I represent a child has gone missing, then five went missing, then a dozen went missing, then 50 went missing and currently today 76 are missing and nothing is happening.”
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