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West Norfolk MP tells of enthusiasm here to help the people of Afghanistan

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The situation in Afghanistan remains grave and the priority is the safe evacuation of British and Afghan people.

During a briefing with Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, and Home Office ministers and the UK Ambassador Laurie Bristow, I was updated on efforts to repatriate UK nationals and Afghans. Over 5,000 former Afghan staff have been airlifted out of Afghanistan in the last 10 days.

I have raised cases of individuals seeking to be evacuated and the diplomats, military, civilians, and Border Force teams are on the ground processing applications as rapidly as possible are doing a tremendous job.

Many constituents have asked how they can also help refugees arriving in the UK. The Government is working with councils and Norfolk was among the first areas to offer to support the resettlement of Afghan nationals under the government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy and a number of Afghan nationals are already receiving support here in the county. Certain items and other support are needed and details are available at https://helprefugees.campaign.gov.uk/

While we manage the situation flowing from the US decision to withdraw, the UK is playing a leading role in bringing the international community together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis, and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years. That’s why the Prime Minister convened talks with G7 leaders and also spoke to the UN Secretary-General about a co-ordinated approach to counter terrorism and humanitarian aid,

As a MP, the range of issues you deal with varies greatly so as well as dealing with Afghanistan related issues this week, closer to home, the £25 million King’s Lynn Town Deal took a step forward. Both the borough council’s cabinet and the Towns Fund Board, which I am a member of, agreed the prioritisation of projects to make Lynn an even better place to live, work, and visit.

To support innovative, growing businesses and a skilled workforce projects include new opportunities for youth skills and adult retraining; a new town centre one stop shop offering a range of services including a relocated library; and a restored St George’s Guildhall complex and creative hub. This latter project offers great potential to maximise the heritage and Shakespeare links in Lynn to support culture, training and skills, new creative firms and jobs, and to boost the number of visitors into West Norfolk and thereby support the local economy. With COP26 later this year and a greater focus on greener transport, the Town Deal also promotes a more sustainably connected town with improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure, traffic flow, and an informal park and ride at the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone. Finally, the Deal will make more of the historic riverfront, repurpose some town centre buildings, and improve public spaces.

Over the next 10 months business cases will be prepared for the priority projects. Hopefully the skills pledge will be fast tracked to begin by the end of the financial year. Of course, the School of Nursing Studies funded through accelerated funding is set to open its doors early next year offering new training opportunities in Lynn.

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