Hillingdon Council has appointed a team of social workers to run a 24-hour service to deal with unaccompanied minors who arrive at Heathrow airport.
The team, made up of four social workers at the equivalent grade to a child protection social worker, and a team manager, are trained in age assessment and safeguarding issues.
Julian Wooster, deputy director of children and families at Hillingdon Council, said the department dealt with between 25 and 40 cases and the volume of work was “unpredictable and very demanding”.
“Each case is very complex. This initiative is designed to increase our capacity to provide a quicker and more responsive service to meet the needs of young people who become our responsibility, arriving from all over the world 24 hours a day.”
Social workers now have an allocated space at one of the terminals to carry out their initial enquiries.
Most of the safeguarding and age assessment work occurs in the days after minors’ arrival and when they are placed within the community.
The Home Office has given the council, which looks after 200 asylum seekers, £400,000 to run the service.