Redbridge Council leader pledges to rehome five Calais child refugees
PUBLISHED: 14:42 25 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:42 25 October 2016
The leader of Redbridge Council has pledged to rehome five vulnerable and unaccompanied child refugees from the Calais “jungle” camp.
Cllr Jas Athwal has pledged to help five child refugees under the Dubs Amendment, which allows unaccompanied children to live in the UK.
The council leader, who visited the camp last month, said he was delighted to make the pledge at a Citizens UK rally outside the Home Office in central London, yesterday afternoon.
He said: “I feel proud that I could help in some small way to bring these children who are in desperate need to a safe and welcoming place like London.
“We’re very excited to welcome them to Redbridge.
“Our social workers have been working overtime this weekend to ensure we will have homes ready for them, and when they arrive, Cllr Norman and I will be there to greet them.”
Cllr Athwal said he had held off from naming how many child refugees would be accepted until further financial aid was guaranteed by the government.
He said: “I am conscious that in the borough, grants have been cut.
“What we don’t want to be doing is increasing the pressure on services in the borough, so at the rally, we were asking for more funding.
“I visited Calais for one afternoon, and I was glad to be returning home.
“There are children that have been there for years, and it’s very exciting that they are going to be receiving a proper roof over their heads.”
Capt Naomi Clifton from the Ilford corp of the Salvation Army said she was “over the moon”.
“It’s fantastic,” she told the Recorder.
“I know that the borough has a very high amount of foster children in care and has still found room for five child refugees, so the council is really leading the way.
“There were about 200 people at the rally and 50 of those were from Redbridge.
“Many of them were families who face their own struggles and life is not easy for them but they still have a large amount of compassion.
“We felt very proud to be from Redbridge yesterday and of Cllr Athwal for leading the way in social justice.”
At the rally, Cllr Athwal, and fellow council leaders from Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden, Islington and Lambeth, presented a letter to the Home Office calling for more action to be taken.
They were assisted by a small Paddington Bear from Ilford: Miriam Clifton, three, who hand-delivered the letter.
Daniel Mackintosh, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Citizens UK organiser, said the letter called for the government to ensure the unaccompanied refugees were supported properly.
He said: “The letter asks that the government work with charities that are already in the Calais camp to ensure no child is left behind.
“It also asks for more clarity on funding for councils beyond the first year, so councils can plan their long-term support.
“Many councils have faced massive budget cuts since 2010 and this will help them.”
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