Waverley Borough Council is calling on the Government for a longer-term financial commitment to support Afghan nationals seeking refuge in the UK.
Waverley has committed to providing assistance for between five and 10 families within the borough but is seeking further clarity from Government on how it can work together with the NHS and other Government bodies, Surrey County Council and other local partners, to ensure the refugees get the help and support they need.
The council says that beyond immediate housing requirements, a longer-term plan from central Government is needed to ensure that adequate medical care, education and mental health provision to help the refugees rebuild their lives is in place and is fully funded.
The council is also urging the Government to commit to funding support for the refugees for as long as it is needed. Currently, funding has been pledged by Government for 12 months to support councils helping refugees
Councillor Paul Follows, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “All of us have been moved by the desperate situation in Afghanistan and believe that we have a moral duty to provide support for those families. What is frustrating is that we are being hampered by a lack of a clear plan and communication from Government and from the county council about how that support can be put in place.
“We also feel that it is wrong that the burden of funding support should be passed to Council Taxpayers after one year, and we want clarity that the Government will continue to fund the support for as long as it is needed.
“On a separate note, I know that many have expressed concerns that Afghan refugees will be receiving housing and support ahead of British veterans. This is not the case. Waverley has an established, working Armed Forces Covenant which sets out our commitment to support former servicemen and women and I want to reassure our residents that we work very hard to ensure that no veterans are homeless in Waverley and that they are supported to access the help and care that they need.”
How can you help?
While we seek further information and guidance, we understand that many people across Waverley may want to support the refugees in some way. We will be providing a further update on this as soon as possible.
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.
There is now a Frequently Asked Questions web page available regarding Afghan citizens who have been evacuated to Surrey,
There is also support for new citizens arriving in Surrey via Surrey Libraries – quite often these families don’t have digital or wifi access – but important in starting their new life for finding jobs, setting up bank accounts etc.