The research, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, shows that small charities and faith organisations are critical service providers for this vulnerable group, which includes a significant proportion of British children. The study examines the strategic challenges facing voluntary sector organisations in developing and delivering destitution services to migrant children and their families. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with representatives of 51 voluntary sector and faith-based organisations and funding bodies.
Some larger third sector organisations voiced concerns about reputational consequences for helping this unpopular group of people – which they fear may jeopardise their relationship with government – whose welfare policies are designed to create a ‘hostile environment’ for irregular migrants in the UK. Meanwhile, smaller charities and faith-based organisations are struggling to cope with the increased scale of demand due to their fragile funding base, caused partly by cuts to local authority budgets affecting the funding of voluntary groups. Further restrictions to welfare support for migrant children and families under the Immigration Act 2016, which are due to be implemented next year, are likely to increase demand for voluntary sector support even further.