Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Former Newport children’s home could be used to house youngsters seeking asylum

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

A former children’s home could be used to house children seeking asylum, Newport City Council has confirmed. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cambridge House, on Stow Park Avenue, was closed in May 2021 because it no longer met council standards. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Local authorities have a legal obligation to provide suitable accommodation for Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children (UASC). ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

At a performance scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday March 14, officers said Cambridge House was “perfectly placed” for the young asylum seekers because it is near mosques, shops and a community. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Newport has adopted a ‘City of Sanctuary’ title, meaning it pledges to provide “support, dignity and welcome” to all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

At the meeting, head of social services, Sally Jenkins, said: “They are children who are desperate to settle and be safe.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Natalie Poyner, head of children’s services at the council, said the building would see investment from capital funding to ensure it was “fit for purpose”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Ms Poyner said the Cambridge House proposal was at “early stages”. The council has submitted a bid to Welsh Government for the funding. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Labour councillor Pat Drewett, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said: “It’s really important that we are able to welcome asylum seekers and we have appropriate provision. Are we confident that this scheme to adapt Cambridge House is cost effective? Or would a new build be a better alternative?” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Joanne Llewelyn said it was “difficult” to find a suitable property for the children in Newport. She said the council had looked at many options and added: “Cambridge House fits the criteria more than any other property.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Stow Hill councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi said: “The council seem to restrict it’s search to certain wards when looking for properties. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“They seem to always want to put these kind of places either in Stow Hill or Pill, which makes people cross because they feel they are being unfairly targeted.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Conservative councillor William Routley, who represents Bishton and Langstone, said in future the property should be used to house looked-after children in Newport, when it is no longer needed for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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