As the grave situation develops in Afghanistan, with many people having to flee the country and seek refuge in the UK and elsewhere, Waverley Borough Council is committed to extending a helping hand.
The council is looking to support between five and ten families within the borough and is working with local agencies, community organisations and other partners to ensure they get the assistance they need.
Councillor Paul Follows, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said:
“Our thoughts are with all those so acutely affected by the current crisis in Afghanistan; we are committed to extending a helping hand to those that so desperately need our support.
“We have been in contact with Government offices over the last few weeks seeking clarification on resettlement proposals for Afghan families and have been liaising with Surrey County Council over the welfare support that will be needed as well as clarification on funding and long-term plans. In the meantime, we have been looking at our own housing stock to see how many families and individuals we might be able to provide with shelter. At present, we are looking to support between five and ten families.
“Whilst we are pleased to see the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme has been announced to provide safe refuge to those who supported our armed forces, we have also asked for MoD assets in Surrey and Hampshire to be explored for those who have worked with and for the UK armed forces over the past 20 years.
“We now await further detail from the Government but, in the meantime, will continue to explore all options available to us in order to make our own contribution to helping those in need. Whilst there is an urgency to the situation, we know from our considerable experience assisting Syrian refugees with complex circumstances over the past five years that we need to make provision for the long-term too, ensuring there is support not just from a housing perspective but with regards to a range of services including medical care, education and mental health support.
“Our local communities and voluntary organisations are already offering their assistance for which we are very grateful and we will be sharing more details of how people can help as soon as we have a clearer idea of what is needed.”
How can I help?
Due to operational and logistical challenges, as well as COVID control considerations, we have been informed that any donations at this point should be, if possible, financial ones, to charities that are best equipped to immediately support Afghan refugees. The Community Foundation for Surrey is set up to administer these donations locally and information on how to donate can be found on their website.
Alternatively, the Red Cross are already active in managing donations and supporting arrivals from Afghanistan, and wider local support will be needed from foodbanks and other charities, which can be found via Surrey Information Point.
How can I get help?
If you are an Afghan family member and want to find out information on help available, the following links may be useful:
- Resettlement routes for Afghan nationals – there are two helpline numbers you can call. We are advised that currently these lines are very busy but more resource is being made available.
If you are a non-British national in Afghanistan, or are the family member of a non-British national in Afghanistan, and in need of assistance, you should call (+44) 02475389980.
If you are a British national, or family member of a British national in Afghanistan you should call +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals” or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find out more on the Government factsheet – resettlement routes.
- The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme – a bespoke resettlement scheme for current and former locally employed staff in Afghanistan which offers priority relocation to the UK to any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life. Further information can be found on the Government fact sheet – Arap scheme.