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 https://www.rome2rio.com/. Alongside booking travel ensure that have the appropriate documents from the consulate 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.
- It can enable people to return with dignity by providing new clothing and footwear, a suitcase or bag and providing pocket expenses for food and onward travel.
This journey checklist may help in planning journey tasks.
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 are required to support an individual if they are particularly vulnerable or have a history of violence.
Think about common/particular risks/issues which may arise during the journey, so you can put in place strategies to respond to these effectively. Common scenarios include: managing clients’ boredom and keeping them distracted whilst waiting/travelling; responding to requests from clients with substance misuse issues to buy and/or consume alcohol during the journey. EEA nationals in London with support needs can also be referred to Routes Home
In relation to clients with substance misuse issues, it may be worth adopting a pragmatic approach to the use of alcohol where this is considered essential to the client completing the journey, especially if they are returning to detox provision.
Finally, be aware that flight schedules make it unlikely that accompanying staff will be able to return on the same day as the outward journey. Therefore, be sure to make arrangements for accommodation before leaving the UK.