When Hassan Salman and his wife Montaha saw TV news footage of children who have lost everything – their parents, home and possessions – due to war, they felt compelled to help.
So the young couple, from Walcot, are offering their support and spare room to a vulnerable refugee child following an appeal by Swindon Borough Council.
Hassan, aged 25, who works as a production shift manager, said: “We talked about it and decided we couldn’t stand by and do nothing. These children are in such desperate need and we, in comparison, are so fortunate and able to give them a new chance in life.”
They are currently in the process of becoming supported lodgings carers, which means they will be able to take a child from a war-torn country under their wing.
He said: “We’re doing the necessary training and it’s going really well. We both come from big families, so our house feels pretty empty to be honest – we can’t wait to welcome someone and help them settle in.”
Hassan and Montaha, aged 23, who works as a warehouse general assistant, also think the new addition to their home will be great company for their three-year-old son Ahmed.
Hassan said: “It will be good for developing his social skills, helping him to learn how to share, and also someone to play with. The benefits are definitely mutual and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The council needs more supported lodgings placements following the Government’s recent commitment to help more unaccompanied asylum seeking children from other European countries resettle in the UK. Along with other local councils across the country, Swindon has agreed to try and assist with this pressing need, which seeks to give these children, predominantly teenage boys displaced from countries such as Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, a safe home and brighter future.
Border local authorities, such as Kent, are unable to manage the number of children in need, which is why all local authorities have been asked to step in and help with regional transfer arrangements. Government funding has been made available to cover in-borough placement costs.
The children may have been separated from their parents by war, while others have been orphaned. They are extremely vulnerable, with many having experienced trauma and being at serious risk of exploitation, sexual violence, disease and cold in their current situation.
Hassan said: “My wife and I are both originally from the Middle East. I’ve lived here, mainly in London, for 16 years so I know what it’s like adjusting to a new environment. I also used to work as a carer for teenagers with autism and epilepsy, so hopefully this experience will come in handy too, for instance if the child is withdrawn or has specific needs. We want them to feel like part of our family.”
Age, sexuality, marital status and whether or not you have children of your own are no barrier to becoming a supported lodgings carer. Carers receive free full training and ongoing support, as well as payment and allowances to help cover their time and expenses. Placements vary in duration from a few months to several years.
For more information, please call: (01793) 464329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org