There are a number of important steps that may need to be considered when arranging and supporting an EEA national to undertake a journey to a home country:
- When booking travel, ensure the mode of transport is appropriate for the individual – i.e. some people might be too vulnerable physically for a long coach journey. It can be helpful to compare the length and price of journeys via websites such as https://www.rome2rio.com/.
- Alongside booking travel ensure that the client has the appropriate travel documents and that the date of travel is appropriate for family or agencies providing support in a home country.
- Ensuring that people are medically fit to travel, if possible ensure they are checked by a doctor. People will need adequate supplies of any medication they require to last until they are able to register with care in the home country. Check that if required, medical care is available on arrival and that there are no restrictions on entitlement to this.
- Ensure that drug and alcohol dependency can be managed on a journey, including supplies of substitute medication. For clients on methadone or any other controlled substance, it is important to have a letter of support from a health professional to show to security staff.
- Notify support organisations of the expected date of arrival and check you have fulfilled all referral requirements. Where the return is to family, make sure that the relevant person is contacted and given the details of the plane/coach arrival time and asked to be there to welcome the client.
- To enable people to return with dignity consider providing things like new clothing and footwear, a suitcase or bag and providing pocket expenses for food and onward travel.
Supporting EEA nationals on the journey
Assessment should inform whether an EEA national is able to travel on their own or will need support on the journey. Organisations should risk assess the journey itself and consider whether it is necessary for two members of staff to support an individual. When considering lone working consider the clients support needs, the complexity of the travel and reconnection arrangements as well as the total length of the journey. Make sure the organization arranging it has got robust measures to support and supervise any lone working reconnections.
Think about any risks or issues that may arise during the journey, so you can put in place thorough and comprehensive strategies to respond to these effectively. Common scenarios include: managing clients’ anxieties, boredom or worries whilst waiting/travelling; responding to requests from clients with substance misuse support needs to buy and/or consume alcohol during the journey and dealing with unexpected delays or issues leading to changes in the reconnection plan.
Finally, be aware that flight schedules may make it impossible for accompanying to return on the same day as the outward journey. If this is the case, be sure to make arrangements for accommodation before leaving the UK.