Chapter 53

In this chapter, Holly Anderson, a Canadian social worker who is temporarily working in the United Kingdom, describes her typical working day. Her work involves visiting unaccompanied minors who arrive in the United Kingdom under strenuous and potentially destabilizing conditions. She assesses and documents their progress as stipulated under the Children Act of 1989. On this particular day, she visits three children who are all between twelve and eighteen years old. After switching tubes, travelling on a train and finally on a bus, she arrives in a foster care where her first client, Mahammed, an Afghanistan immigrant, lives. Mahammed has recently immigrated to the United Kingdom and is merely twelve years old. Therefore, he does not understand why Holly will not let him live with his fictitious cousin who she suspects to be part of a child smuggling gang. After seeing Muhammed and trying to rest his fears, Holly travels to the next foster home in order to visit her next client, Alban. Alban is almost eighteen years old and will soon be eligible for financial, housing and educational support. However, he faces a bleak future due to the fact that he has not been granted an ‘Exceptional Leave’ permit in order to continue living in the United Kingdom. As soon as the meeting is over, Holly travels back to the office where she meets her final client, Hassan, who emigrated from Somalia. Having been granted an indefinite leave of residence in the United Kingdom, he is full of life and bustling with joy. He is the least of her worries. Nonetheless, after reviewing the situations faced by these three boys, the reader is left wondering why there are huge discrepancies in the situations faced by these minors. Do the provisions under the Children Act sufficiently cater for the needs of these children? In addition, does the Immigration Act create a conflict of ideals with the Children’s Act? 

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During her visits, Holly gains a lot of information about the situations that her clients are facing. First, Muhammed is unsettled, distraught and anxious to live with a family member. Secondly, Alban is nervous and uncertain about his future. Finally, Holly learns that Hassan has embraced his destiny and is fully focused on his future. Whereas the ‘Looked after Children’ program is exemplified as very successful, it is highly troubling that this system robs these children what it has endeavored to create as soon as they are eighteen: a fresh start.

In conclusion, Holly’s experiences are humbling and insightful. She has understood the harrowing experiences that these children undergo in order to attain a second opportunity in stable and democratic countries such as the United Kingdom; she also gains an appreciation for the stability in her mother nation, Canada.

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