Co-ordinated effort to support Afghan refugees

Published: Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Councils in Leicestershire and Rutland are working together to co-ordinate their response to resettle Afghan refugees.

The Government has two schemes to help resettle Afghan people who have either worked with British forces or are classed as vulnerable.

All councils across the UK have been asked to support the schemes.

The key focus in Leicestershire and Rutland is finding suitable self-contained properties for families. Owners of properties in both counties which could be suitable are being urged to register them via an online portal.

Charnwood Borough Council is co-ordinating the work for Oadby and Wigston, North West Leicestershire, Blaby, Hinckley and Bosworth, Melton and Harborough borough and district councils, along with Rutland County Council. Leicestershire County Council is assisting the borough and districts where there are social care needs and access to school places.

Cllr Paul Mercer, lead member for private housing at Charnwood Borough Council, said on behalf of all the councils involved: “We have all seen the news coverage highlighting the situation in Afghanistan and naturally we all want to help people who are in real danger.

“The Government has asked councils to support these resettlement schemes and that’s what we are doing in Leicestershire and Rutland.

“It’s difficult to say how many families we can help as we only have the confirmed details of one scheme and we are waiting for more information on the other. It’s a fast-moving situation.”

“The key focus for the resettlement schemes is finding suitable homes for families.

"We would urge anyone who owns a property which may be suitable to register it via the online portal set up by Government. Once a property has been registered it can be assessed for suitability.”

While donations of items can be offered online, the Councils are urging people to put that on hold for the time being as the focus is on finding suitable self-contained homes. Support packages will be in place to help families settle in.

The two schemes, both funded by central Government, include the Afghan Locally Employed Staff Relocation Scheme, which aims to relocate around 5,000 people and their families who currently or formerly worked for British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

The second scheme announced by Government is the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme. In the first year, it is expected that 5,000 vulnerable Afghans will be resettled in the UK and that a total of 20,000 will be resettled over a five-year period. Final details of the scheme are yet to be confirmed.

Individuals, businesses, and landlords who want to pledge any offers of homes to accommodate people arriving from Afghanistan. The schemes can only accept self-contained homes, not shared housing. The form is available on the Government website.