England

Pair fostered in 'northern' fear

Two children were placed in foster care because a social worker feared they would "not adapt to northern culture" in Yorkshire, a relative said.

When the brother and sister from Hampshire were removed from their parents, an aunt from Huddersfield wanted to look after them.

But they were put into care after a social worker "feared their southern accents would leave them isolated".

Their aunt has now won a legal case that will see them move in with her.

Hampshire County Council said it was "pleased" with the decision.

When the children were placed in foster care the aunt decided to begin legal action to be their guardian.

'Real family life'

After a nine-month custody battle started last August, she was awarded custody.

She said: "The children needed to be with their family at such a difficult time for them.

"I put myself forward as a carer. I work. I have a loving family close by. I thought that, together, we could show them what real family life was like. They had had a tough time at home.

"However, their social worker decided that the children 'had grown up within the southern region and couldn't adapt to the change in area and culture'.

"Apparently, speaking with a southern accent would cause difficulties and isolation."

The aunt had been brought up in Hampshire as well, but moved to the Kirklees area several years ago, along with other family members.

Solicitor Nigel Priestley, who represented the children in court, accused the council of painting a stereotype of the north.

He said: "I live in Yorkshire, near the Peak District national park. I haven't spotted many cloth caps recently."

A Hampshire County Council spokesman said: "We would never let trivial considerations get in the way of securing the best placement for the children. We are pleased the children were placed with their aunt."

He said an independent social worker had carried out an assessment regarding the placement of the children with their aunt, but a second report was commissioned as it was felt the previous one was incomplete, and on its completion the council supported the move north.

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