‘The first thing they do is ask for a razor’: Couple who have fostered child refugees warn the UK is being exploited by GROWN MEN masquerading as youngsters
- Sarah and Giles have fostered dozens of ‘child’ refugees who were adults
- One boy they fostered lived with them for two years before confessing he was not 15, but was in his mid-twenties
- Said their concerns were repeatedly ‘fobbed off’ by the Home Office
- Claim some of them have fully grown beards and ask for a razor on arrival
A foster couple yesterday declared that they had been ‘horrified’ for years about grown men masquerading as child refugees.
Sarah and Giles, who have fostered dozens of child asylum seekers, said several had turned out to be adults, but social services had ‘no interest’ in being told.
After reading this week about widespread doubts over the ages of some young men coming from Calais, they said: ‘We could never understand why this has not come out before.’
Using assumed names because they fear reprisals if they are identified, Sarah and Giles said one boy, supposedly 15, lived with them for two years and attended a local school. But when he eventually left them, he revealed: ‘You English are so stupid – I’m in my twenties.’
They said dentists and GPs routinely turned away their foster ‘children’ because they could tell they were actually grown men.
But they were ‘fobbed off’ when they warned social services, and worried they would be accused of racism if they made a fuss.
Speaking from their home in an English university town, Sarah and Giles said all they wanted to do was offer love and support to child refugees, but were instead expected to provide a home for men pretending to be children and send them to schools with genuine youngsters.
Sarah said: ‘How would you feel if your teenage daughter was sharing a class with one of these men?
‘We have been horrified about this for years. Young men are taken in with no proper check on their histories. They are placed in family homes – our home – and schools.
‘Who knows what they have done, or been through – no one knows anything about their past.
‘It is very common for them to have January 1st birthdays, because the Home Office just gives them arbitrary dates of birth.’
The couple, who have grown-up children of their own and have been fostering for more than a decade, said they warned social services whenever they had suspicions.
Above left and right, two of those seeking refuge in the UK this week, who perhaps need a shave and have hidden their face. Foster carer Sarah said if they ask for a razor quickly, that is a sure sign something is wrong
But Sarah said: ‘Nothing was ever done. Our concerns were just fobbed off. Social services would just tell us, “Oh, he has had a hard life”.
‘This is not about doubting the word of refugees – it is about a very important child protection issue. You are placing men with unknown troubled backgrounds into a school environment, where schoolchildren are supposed to be safe, and a foster environment which is our home.
‘We might also be looking after a child abuse victim from Britain who could be very vulnerable.’
Giles said they both felt Britain should show pity and compassion to youngsters who were alone, penniless and without parents, often from horrifying backgrounds.
But based on years of experience, they are convinced more rigorous age and health checks are needed.
He said: ‘In the absence of age assessments, which should include the opinion of doctors and dentists, child protection agencies are placing men of unknown backgrounds and histories in family homes and school environments too. This has been happening for years.
‘We are speaking out because we have witnessed disturbing events. We have no axe to grind. We are welcoming of all nationalities, cultures and religions, but the service we provide is supposed to be for children.
‘We have many times wondered why the authorities have not taken steps to age-assess young people who look to be adults and our bewilderment has increased when still no age assessment has been undertaken when dentists and doctors have stated – unprompted – that in their professional opinion a particular young person is an adult.’
Manly: masculine features put him at an estimated age of 27. Sarah and her husband Giles have been fostering for more than a decade and say they do get genuine cases
Sideburns: Computer age of 29 – is he past his teens? Sarah said she felt horrified that older men would be in the same classroom as youngsters while pretending to be teenagers
Sarah and Giles have fostered many genuine children – some of them migrants and some troubled English youngsters – who have gone on to lead successful lives.
They have kept dozens of fond messages sent by grateful recipients of their care. ‘One of our foster cases went to university. We were so excited when he graduated,’ said Sarah.
Explaining the process that often leads to them fostering a migrant, she said: ‘It usually starts in the night, with a call from a duty social worker who says, “The police have stopped a truck of migrants and one is claiming to be under 18. Can you take him?” But it isn’t long before the tell-tale signs the “child” is really an adult begin to emerge.
‘The first thing they want is a razor. It’s a dead giveaway. We have boys of our own, but some of these asylum kids have beards and growths only fully-grown adults have.’
Youngsters being fostered by the couple live in their tidy semi-detached home, with photographs of their high-achieving children on the mantelpiece, and dogs sprawled by the fireplace. To become a foster parent meant giving their lives to the task.
Giles worked in the construction business, but now the couple make themselves available ‘24 hours a day’, said Sarah. They said they found fostering rewarding most of the time, but had become increasingly frustrated.
Sarah added: ‘The issue of checking ages is huge. By the time they come here, they have clearly been coached in what to say. They know their rights.
‘They get about £60 a week – cash – in their hands, for clothes, haircuts, mobile phones. They know it’s in their best interests to go into foster care. They know what a social worker is, and how much money they are entitled to. Once they come out of foster care they go straight to the top of the housing list.
‘We took in a boy from Africa. There is a story they all tell when they are picked up, about having lost all their papers and not being able to speak English. But this one walked in, spotted our TV and blurted out, “Oh great, EastEnders!”
‘We have a friend who gave up foster caring because she didn’t feel safe in her own home. She is a tiny woman and was sharing her home with grown men pretending to be children. It is ridiculous. We don’t want to give up, but it is hard.’
They get an allowance of £100 to £300 a week to cover their expenses.
‘You have to be able to afford to foster. You can’t make money out of it, but you do have to pay the bills,’ said Sarah.
‘We were motivated because we wanted to make a difference. But it is not easy. It is highly intrusive, and every year you get a minimum of one unannounced visit and they go over every square inch of your house.
‘It is very rigorous, but it is understandably thorough because you are looking after vulnerable children.
‘This makes it all the more ridiculous that they can then put an unknown adult, pretending to be a child, into the household with barely any checks on them.
One of the Child Refugees from Calais was re-united with his Afghan father. His father has been back to Afghanistan whilst living in this country. This shows that Afghanistan is quite safe for him. All the family should be returned to Afghanistan. Anyone who arrives by Lorry from France should be sent back to France. In my opinion no one who passes through a safe country should be offered asylum as they have made themselves an ecoomic migrant. Africa has plenty of safe lands so no African should get Asylum. If the Government can’t prove a migrant is fom a country they say they are all they need is a simple test. Print out a blank map of the country and ask migrant to pin point the cities on the map when asked. Also make them to speak in the language of that country. Most migrants head for Sweden, UK, Germany because we have good welfare, pay their rents, give free housing, give free NHS and dentist and provide free education and child benefits. They don’t get these in Third World Countries. Asylum is just abused by economic migrants. If Lily Allan, Geldof, Cumberpatch, Jude Law and other Lefty Lovies want to help migrants why don’t they build a hostel in Africa using their money and feed them instead of expecting British Taxpayers to help the poor migrate to the UK.