Testimonies from destitute migrant families who have approached London local authorities for support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989

‘You can’t go there on your own. I went [to Children’s Services] alone and called them from downstairs, asking to see someone. I was seven months pregnant and crying down the phone. They refused to come down to see me for the whole day.’

‘It took months to get a social worker to help me, partly because I had to be wait to be evicted. I went on my own and they wouldn’t see me at all.’

‘My solicitor had to send them a letter for them to house me. They said they weren’t there to help. Then they did the credit checks before they even saw the children. They don’t believe you are destitute, but why would you go there if you had anywhere else to be?’

‘When you don’t have papers, they treat you so badly, like you are not a person, or like you are irrelevant. We are all human beings – it doesn’t need to be like this.’

‘If someone has no recourse to public funds, how are they supposed to cope?’

The conducts of the social service team has made me and my children lose trust and confidence in them. I have been called […] unprintable names [including] ‘bush girl’. My daughter was shouted at. My social worker [turned up early in the morning while] my children were still in bed sleeping [and] demand[ed] I visit the council immediately without a prior appointment. [She] would lie and turned my words around [to the point at which] I needed a witness whenever I had to talk to the social worker.’

‘They are not supposed to treat people like animals. They need to stop this [gatekeeping] before children die because of it. ‘

‘When they eventually gave us temporary accommodation they moved us again after three days’

‘They asked me to do a DNA test to prove I was the mother of my children’

‘Do they think we’d pretend to be destitute in order to be treated like this? The reason we have to go to the council is because we have nowhere else to go’

On the role of the Home Office in Children’s Services

‘They are using social services to catch people.’

‘I was afraid they would deport me. They gave me removal papers and pressured me to sign them before I had even had a chance to read them’

On Haringey Council

‘My story of a failed system. Right from the very first minute I approached Haringey council it has been hell of a journey for me and especially for my 3 young kids. The Haringey social worker made sure life was horrible for me and my children. She went on a spree of lies, changing every word I mentioned  to something else to suit her to calling me names and using some derogatory remarks. She didn’t spare my daughter of 9 years either; she shouted at her one time too. The social worker’s name, Haringey council, police and social services have now become a threat to my children that they do not want to hear. I am faced with questions everyday from my children regarding how many places do they have to sleep in a single school term.
As much as I tried to keep this away from them it’s in their memory how they were made homeless and sent on the street. What this will do to their confidence, self belief, esteem and their future as a whole is yet to be seen. I have no confidence and trust in the system again.’