Council to support Afghanistan resettlement programme
24 Aug 2021
The Leader of Northumberland County Council, Glen Sanderson has joined the residents of Northumberland in voicing his sadness and concern for the people of Afghanistan and has confirmed the council’s commitment to supporting those fleeing their homes and seeking safety in the UK. The council is in discussions with the Government about the support it can provide to house Afghan refugees and is awaiting further guidance.
Councillor Sanderson said: “What is happening in Afghanistan is both shocking and heart-breaking. My thoughts, like all of ours, are with the Afghan people, but also with those members of our communities who have loved ones in Afghanistan and will be extremely concerned about their safety.”
The settlement of refugees in appropriate communities with appropriate support is complex and is being coordinated at a national level. The Government has pledged to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next five years in a scheme that will be similar to the 2014 project set up to support Syrian refugees when the country fell into civil war.
Northumberland has a long history of supporting those in need from other countries and prior to the current situation in Afghanistan agreed to the Government's request to support their Afghan Local Employed Staff (LES) resettlement proposals. Under this scheme, the council is looking to support six families. The authority is already supporting three families who have arrived in the county in recent days and another three are expected soon.
As well as providing homes from its own housing stock, the council is working closely with other social housing providers with a view to exploring what assistance they can provide.
"We are currently awaiting guidance from the Government in terms of refugees arriving from Afghanistan and we are reviewing options to either accelerate or increase our support, should we be asked to do so.
“The most critical element to the Afghan scheme is that the authority can identify and offer affordable housing. We already have a waiting list for housing in the county – but we will do our best to help in any way we can.
“Our contribution may be modest, but by working as part of the national programme with all councils contributing according to their ability, our combined effort can make a significant difference.”
Cllr Sanderson added: “Many people in Afghanistan are now in real danger having provided vital support to our military over the last 20 years.
“These people have acted heroically as our allies, despite the risk to themselves and their families, and it’s only right that we now do all we can to keep them safe and recognise their service and contribution to our country.”
Since 2016 Northumberland County Council has supported the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme, receiving funding to cover any associated costs.
The authority has resettled 44 refugee families who have experienced incomprehensible trauma and upset in their lives and have been displaced by conflict which has destroyed their homeland and their livelihoods.
The refugees have come to Northumberland with a strong work ethic, a desire to learn the English language and a wish to support their families and contribute to their local communities.
They have worked extremely hard to integrate with their local communities in Northumberland and the council has been supporting the families to engage in a wide range of community activities and pursue volunteering and employment opportunities.
The council has received a fantastic level of offers so far. We do not currently need any further donations to support the families and have sufficient for the families we have already received. If we require further donations, we will publicise this at the time. If people would like to provide support, we recommend donations be made to the local foodbanks which we work closely with.
Any enquiries can be emailed to the following address - firstname.lastname@example.org