Ten children believed to have been forced to work in nail bars across Southwark have been taken into care, as the council hopes they will gain asylum in the UK to stay safe from threats against them and their families.
The minors were first alerted to the authorities after Southwark Council’s licensing and trading standards conducted investigations into a number of nail bars in the borough suspected of using forced labour and trafficked workers, leading to police raids.
As the News has reported, nail bars are at the coalface of modern slavery, with traffickers hoping to exploit a growing market for nail treatments and consumers who will turn a blind eye when paying cut-price.
Cllr Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, schools and adult care, said the children had been placed with foster carers who have experience supporting young people who have been trafficked or subjected to modern slavery.
“We are supporting all of these young people to seek asylum in the UK, as threats of persecution to themselves or family members, mean that they’ve expressed no interest in returning to their country of origin,” she told the News.
“We’ve helped them to access specialist immigration services that will enable them to make asylum applications. This will hopefully result in their building a future here, in the UK.
“In the longer term, we hope to continue working with these young people, introducing them to life in the UK through a strong foundation, within a family home. The aim is to help them to make a safe transition into adulthood.
“When children come into our care, we assess, support and help with their needs. These include accommodation, health, education, and emotional well-being; amongst others.
“We have introduced these children to specialist mental health services and a designated doctor, who specialises in children in local authority care. They are also supported by an education service from Southwark’s virtual school for children in our care.”