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More Afghan refugees in Walsall because ‘it’s the right thing to do’

Plans to increase the number of Afghan refugees being taken in by Walsall have been backed by senior town councillors.

Walsall Council’s cabinet is now expected to implement a recommendation to provide support to an extra 40 people to bring the total to 120.

So far, the borough has welcomed 15 families, consisting of 69 individuals, through the national Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.

READ MORE: The latest breaking news from across the Black Country

At a children’s services scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday (September 2), members heard how agencies are supporting refugees as they come into the borough.

Andrea Potts, director of early help and partnerships, said: “We are working closely with the Refugee and Migrant Council (RMC) and other partners.

“We are keen to understand if any of those families that have come to live in Walsall have children with special education needs or disabilities so we can link up appropriate schools.

“Walsall’s history has got a really strong reputation of helping refugees so the knowledge and training that partners have is good.

A civilian charter flight arrives at a Midlands airport from Kabul. The flight carried eligible Afghans under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy Programme and British Nationals who were based in Afghanistan.

“We’ve talked about well-being. Many of these children have seen or experienced huge trauma. It may well not be evident this week or next week but it certainly will be.

“The RMC is doing a grand job in providing a much needed support and that is being complemented by experts such as health visitors, school nurses, safeguarding leads or local police.

“I have been truly impressed by the response. Walsall has been very quick off the mark. It’s not a numbers game but we pledged 80 and the intention is to extend that to 120. Walsall is absolutely doing its bit.”

Councillor Tim Wilson, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “It was the right decision when we initially offered to have 80 and it is right when we hopefully move that to 120.

“We have welcomed some families already to Walsall because it is the right thing to do. This brings some challenges to the council and communities but it is a great partnership effort so everyone is working today.

“Not all local authorities are doing it, which I think is a shame and I think it is our duty to do what we are doing.”

Councillor Aftab Nawaz, leader of Walsall Labour group.
Councillor Aftab Nawaz, leader of Walsall Labour group.

Walsall Labour group leader Aftab Nawaz said it was important the Government provided the resources to enable the authority to provide long term care to the families.

He added: “It is important we have the funding. Some of the issues the families have are going to be immensely complex.

“Some of the trauma young people will have seen over the past few years is horrific. It will be horrific for them for a long time. We probably can’t imagine the trauma that they have seen.

“I welcome the decision going to cabinet and sure it will go through. My group and I will be fully supportive of that.”

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