Social workers from Worcestershire are visiting children who have come to Britain to claim asylum all over the Midlands.

County hall has legal responsibility for 23 unaccompanied asylum seekers, but most of them have been found foster families outside the county.

Social work team leader Adam Benkalai told members of Worcestershire County Council’s Corporate Parenting Board that the local authority where an asylum seeker is first picked up by police is responsible for their welfare.

He said: “They are generally first picked up in motorway service stations- they’re in lorries and they climb out when it shops and are picked up by the police.

Of the 23 young people, 20 are boys or young men, and three girls. Mr Benkalai told councillors that since 2005, most child asylum seekers in Worcestershire come from Afghanistan, with Iraq and Iran being the next most common countries of origin, then Vietnam, Eritrea, and Kurdistan.

Mr Benkalai said: “The vast majority of them Have been trafficked, they’ve paid someone quite a lot of money to bring them to this country, and they can be very vulnerable to exploitation.

“They are very motivated educationally, they want to continue their education, they want to lear, they want to learn English and achieve as succeed. And they’re very respectful and extremely resilient young people, they are open to the culture here and very positive about having new experiences.”

But the troubles in their own countries which have helped drive the asylum seekers here mean the young people often have mental health difficulties. Mr Benkalai said: “Some of them have been subjected to torture, others have seen truly horrific things, they are very vulnerable.”

He explained that most of the young people are found foster families or live in supported accommodation. Only four actually live in the county, 3 in Wychavon district and one in Wyre Forest. Ten asylum seekers live in Birmingham, three in Sandwell, and there are individuals in Dudley, Coventry, Croydon, Staffordshire, Leicester and Doncaster.

Mr Benkalai said: “We try to house the young people where they are culturally comfortable, and there are fewer opportunities to do that in Worcestershire.”