The UK government has decided to extend until 2017 the Family Restoration Fund which helps to reunite former child migrants with their families.
The funding is available to any former child migrant who was sent unaccompanied under school-leaving age from Great Britain and Northern Ireland before 1970 to Commonwealth countries. It covers the practical costs of travel.
Child migration programmes are estimated to have led to the removal of over 130,000 children from the UK to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Australia.
The UK government announced the fund in 2010 at the time it made a formal national apology to former child migrants.
The fund is administered by the Child Migrants Trust, the key charity focused on family tracing, social work and counselling services for former child migrants and their families.
The fund has so far supported over 700 former child migrants and their families to travel to be reunited. By 2017, the government estimates that the fund will have helped around 1,000 former child migrants and many thousands of family members.
“We can never forget the hardship and heartache experienced by children and their families as a result of misguided child migration schemes,” said Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter. “The Family Restoration Fund has already reunited so many former child migrants with their relatives. We can’t undo the past. But we can help to reunite families that were torn apart so unjustly and completely. I’m pleased to announce the fund will run until 2017.”
Director of the Child Migrants Trust, Margaret Humphreys, said: “Former child migrants and their families will welcome this positive step. Restoring a sense of family life is vital after years of separation and the Fund is a lifeline for hundreds of families. It adds real substance to our national apology.”