Bristol and Gloucestershire councils pledge to help Afghan families – but want more help

Councils in Gloucestershire as well as Bristol have pledged to house Afghan families affected by the turmoil going on in Afghanistan.

Bristol council has pledged to welcome 10 families to the city, but has appealed to the government to give them the resources to take more.

South Gloucestershire Council has so far identified three homes for Afghan households and is requesting private landlords to come forward with more homes.

Landlords are also being asked to sign up for the Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers if they have available properties to rent.

Afghanistan, Kabul, 18, 8, 2021

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees told The Bristol Cable: “It’s just heartbreaking what we see happening to people and the desperation of people clinging to the bottom of an airplane…

“But what we will be saying to government is, release more resource and we’ll be able to bring more people here.

“That is for the good of our wider population, but it’s also for the good of those people who get settled here, so that we can provide the resources and the support networks they need to be able to flourish and not end up isolated and all the other risks that come round people when they move.”

People who worked for the UK government and the British military in Afghanistan are being relocated to the UK after the Taliban took hold of the country under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme.

Meanwhile a new Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will see the UK take 20,000 Afghan refugees over the course of five years, prioritising women, girls, as well as religious and other minorities most likely to be persecuted by the Taliban.

As quoted in Gloucestershire Live, Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire county, said: “In the same way as we have supported 83 Syrian families to settle in the county since 2015, we will support the national effort, to help the most vulnerable Afghan people to settle in the UK, in any way we can.

“Together with our district partners we have already committed to supporting 35 Afghan translators and their families following their work with the British Army and are working with our health, education and social care teams to make sure their needs can be fully met and they are supported to build a new life.”

Kabul, Afghanistan, August 1 2021, refugee children after the collapse of the country.

And Joe Harris, Cotswold District Council leader, is quoted as saying: “In particular, we’ve been working with our partners across Gloucestershire to relocate those who worked with British forces in Afghanistan and their families.

“In order to help make this a reality we need the government to provide us with funds and logistics above and beyond what they’ve already offered.

“We are proactively looking for three and four bed properties to house these families so please get in touch with the council if you can help.”

In Gloucestershire there is a refugee settlement programme managed by Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS).

As well as helping refugees the scheme can benefit landlords by including rent in advance payments.

Ruth Saunders, chair of the Gloucestershire Strategic Housing Partnership, said: “If you own a property for rent please do consider signing up to this scheme and help vulnerable families who in many cases risked their safety to support our armed forces.

“If you have any questions, our friendly, award-winning resettlement team is on hand to answer any questions you may have.”

Through the resettlement scheme, refugee families are supported for one year, during which time they will take a habitual residence test from the Department of Work and Pensions.

As reported by the Hertfordshire Mercury, three districts in Hertfordshire have pledged to help families from Afghanistan resettle in the UK.

Welwyn Hatfield, Dacorum and Three Rivers councils have all confirmed that they will be resettling families. The first family has already arrived.

A number of councils have requested for the government to supply more funding to enable them to rehouse more families, in what’s becoming a regular conversation up and down the country.