Afghan Migration and Refugee Resettlement at The Watermill

 

Gordon Rolfe, BEVA’s Chairman, has received a briefing note from Hertfordshire County Council regarding the Afghan refugees staying at the Watermill.  The document is reproduced in full below.

Please note that they want us to stay away for about a month in order to allow these refugees some breathing space for their health and adjustment from the trauma they have experienced.


Briefing Note – Afghan Migration and Refugees Resettlement Hotels Status Update

2 September 2021

Current numbers in the resettlement hotels*

Hotel

Number in hotel

Hertsmere 1

39

Hertsmere 2

146

Dacorum 1

153

 

*these numbers can change daily and therefore only provide a snapshot in time. They are also based, in part, on those that the British Red Cross have registered

Latest housing offers from Districts & Boroughs

District/Borough

Housing offer (by family)

Dacorum Borough Council

2

East Herts Council

4/5 (TBC)

Stevenage Borough Council

3

Three Rivers District Council

2

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

3

Hertsmere Borough Council

2

 

All District and Boroughs are still looking to see what can be made available. Calls with MHCLG have occurred over last week to discuss further.

Latest key headlines

·         General

o   153 individuals (including 29 families) arrived at the Dacorum resettlement hotel over the bank holiday weekend. The British Red Cross are completing initial assessments of these individuals and feeding back on the main issues

o   Offers of spare room(s) for arrivals from Afghanistan to stay in, should be signposted to www.roomforrefugees.com  

o   An Activities Coordinator has been brought in as part of the team to arrange fun and enriching activities for the children and adults staying at their hotels. These will be carefully coordinated and will be signed off from a Public Health point of view. We hope to commence activity provision, ranging from children’s activities, library books in relevant languages and coordinated day trips, in the next week.

 

·         Voluntary and Donations Updates

o   Key providers across the sector are delivering essential support and meeting with partners regularly to discuss and update on progress. A process flow has been developed for VCS providers to deliver support to resettlement hotels using the British Red Cross and Herts Community Navigation Service as the initial assessor of individual needs, followed by triaging support to other VCS providers to deliver. A range of support is being provided, or is on standby ready to support, including:

§  General welfare, including access to information and registration of NHS and National Insurance

§  Financial support, including crisis intervention services, universal credit

§  Volunteer support, including activities and entertainment, medication, digital support

§  Mental Health support

§  Language and translation services

o   Hertfordshire Community Foundation have launched a fundraising appeal page which can be accessed via the link here - https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/hertsrefugee . As of Thursday 2 August, a massive total of £23,000 has been raised! Funds raised will be distributed to local groups and organisations providing a broad range of assistance and support from the provision of essential items to longer-term employability skills, language skills, family support and community integration.

o   The inbox Afghan.Support@hertfordshire.gov.uk is being actively monitored to co-ordinate donations and support offers from the community.

 

·         Health

o   Over the weekend the multi-agency NHS and Public Health cell mobilised to organise clinics for our new arrivals.  They are also working to get everyone in an ARAP hotel registered with a GP. 

o   The health of some of our arrivals is fair to good, considering their experience. But for many they have arrived with an array of unmet need or health problems caused by the last few weeks and exhaustion, malnutrition and trauma which has taken its toll. Many of them have immediate physical vulnerabilities that we are working to address urgently. More clinics will be held this week and over the weekend and we will be organising more COVID vaccination as soon as people are well enough to sustain it

o   Primary Care, Midwifery and prescribing nurses will be visiting this week

A general message from the Director of Public Health on arrivals from Afghanistan:

At the present time I would ask people not to organise social events where our Afghan arrivals are mixing outside their hotels with numbers of other people. There are several reasons for this:

 

·         First, Covid numbers are still circulating highly in Hertfordshire and we expect a rise as children go back to school. Many of our Afghan arrivals have had health issues which mean their immune systems are stretched. Introducing Covid or flu to them is a serious risk and could potentially infect the entire hotel given that essentially, they live in a closed community for now - their hotel. This is why we have Covid protocols for people working with them.

 

·         Second, we are in the process of arranging health screening for our Afghan arrivals for a number of conditions.  Again, our Afghan arrivals have endured a great deal and we should allow them to rest and settle in, as well as go through the health screening and linking into health services they need, before we start organising major social events.

 

·         Third, there is good evidence that on top of the psychological trauma they experienced in Afghanistan these past few weeks, the trauma of evacuation and arrival in a new country with barely any possessions, social events organised too soon can create a psychological and emotional burden on them. The advice from psychological trauma specialists is that people need time to settle, make sense of where they are and “breathe” before a round of social activities starts.  I would ask you for the sake of their long term thriving to give them some short-term space.

 

The best advice for psychological and for physical health reasons is to allow them to settle in for a few weeks, obtain their health screening and build up both their physical and psychological resilience.

 

Before autumn arrives, the key objective for our Afghan arrivals will be to get them in the best physical and psychological health possible so they can start on the journey of recovery, growth beyond their trauma and a new life. It is in autumn and beyond, for those still in hotels, that we will need well organised social support for them to help them build community.

 

When the time comes, anyone organising events should be doing so either through VPAC or British Red Cross. But not now. The immediate priority is stabilisation of their physical and psychological health and addressing their health needs.  We would ask people to be patient with us.

 

 

 


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