By Sam Tallon 

Welcoming 25 former Afghan translators for the British Army is “morally and ethically the right thing to do” says Sefton Council. 

The local authority has now given its support to the Afghan MOD scheme at its latest Cabinet meeting. 

The scheme aims to integrate 25 former Afghan translators to the British Army and their families into Sefton.

They will receive a package of support for four months, which will include healthcare, housing, education for their families and assistance in job seeking.

The interpreters were made redundant following British military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

They are relocating to Sefton because they are viewed as traitors in their own country and persecuted for their role supporting British military operations.

Although the scheme required council approval, Steven Martlew, the Locality Services Manager for Sefton Council, believed it was never in doubt.

“We’ve got a proud record of supporting migrants, so this is just a further extension from Sefton Council into welcoming foreign nationals” he said.

Sefton has been involved in the Syrian Resettlement Scheme since 2015, with the area taking in 50% more refugees that anywhere else in the Liverpool City Region.

However, this scheme is not a resettlement programme and more akin to a redundancy package from the Ministry of Defence.  

“In terms of how we deliver the Afghan MOD Scheme it’s very similar to that of the Syrian Resettlement Scheme, we can essentially use the existing mechanisms that we’ve got in place.

“It was a no brainer,” Mr Martlew said.

Sefton Councillor Trish Hardy speaking at the meeting on Thursday, praised the Syrian Resettlement Scheme and hoped to replicate its successes.

“I hope that we take the lessons that we’ve learned previously and make these people who’ve done their military service for this country and we make them feel welcome and make them feel like they can settle here long-term,” she said.

The scheme is fully funded by the Ministry of Defence.

Sefton Council will not make any money out of this scheme nor will it be funded by council tax payers.

They have commissioned statutory housing providers and voluntary community sectors to provide a range of services to help the families settle.

The housing group Bosco Society Ltd and Venus, a women’s charity based in Bootle, are among the organisations which have pledged their support to the scheme.

“This is nothing to do with an incentive,” Mr Martlew said.

“This is about doing the moral and ethical right thing to do.”

The support package will provide help for the Afghan families for four months, but Mr Martlew believes that integration will happen much quicker.

“In terms of the language barrier and integrating into British culture, it should be quite quick, which is why support only lasts for four months.

“That said, we have a fantastic community and voluntary sector support in Sefton and therefore, if anybody needed any further support post four months, then our fantastic CVS sector (Council for Voluntary Services) would be able to pick that up,” he added.

Regarding the future of the Afghan MOD Scheme, at present there are no plans to extend the scheme beyond this year, although it is likely that if it is successful it will be reviewed.

“It’s whether there’s enough capacity in the system at that point, whether there’s still a need for it.”

Mr Martlew has no doubt that the scheme will be a success given the quality of the resources that Sefton Council has at its disposal and is conscious that Sefton can always do more to help.

“I know that there are other areas of the world that the government is looking for support with, for example, former Hong Kong nationals.

“These sorts of schemes are likely to come up in the future, but you can never predict what’s happening in the world and where tensions start and end.”

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