News release from 19/08/2021
Council commits to resettle refugees from Afghanistan
Three families from Afghanistan will be provided a home and essential support by South Cambridgeshire District Council in response to the international crisis.
Councillors have also said they will continue to work with Government and other agencies who are monitoring the crisis. This may mean further families could be supported to start a new life if funding is available and the right homes can be found.
The initial three Afghan families will be supported by the Council to relocate to the UK through the Afghan Locally Employed Support (LES) scheme.
The support follows commitments in recent years to provide homes to refugees from Syria, Iran and Sudan. Four families were housed under the previous scheme by the Council and in December 2020 a further commitment to support up to an additional four families per year was made.
The Council worked with an existing resettlement team and support workers at Cambridge City Council to integrate families who arrived during 2019/2020 into their new homes and communities, to ensure practical support was in place. Any new families arriving through the LES scheme will similarly need to be provided support and the Council is working on the detail of how that support will be provided through local partnerships.
Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr John Batchelor (pictured above), said: “The scenes of desperation as people try to escape from Afghanistan weigh heavily on us all, and those families who arrive in the UK as refugees will need our support. They need safe and comfortable homes to build a base for their new lives, but also practical support to adjust to life in the UK, with access to everything from GPs and welfare, to skills training and school places for children.
“We’ve been working on these plans in recent weeks and, as long as funding and support continue to be available from the Government, we will ensure we play our part in the national response for people who are experiencing life-changing trauma in Afghanistan.”
Council Leader, Cllr Bridget Smith (pictured above), said: “We have been supporting refugees since 2019 and, in December 2020, renewed our commitment to support further families as part of the Government’s pledge to assist 20,000 refugees in Syria and surrounding countries. In response to the unfolding situation in Afghanistan over the past few weeks we have also been working with the East of England Local Government Association to secure additional accommodation as part of the Afghan LES relocation scheme.
“The Council remains committed to supporting refugees and we are clear that there is a moral and human need to continue to offer support to people who are forced to flee from their homes. We will continue to work with the East of England Local Government Association to look at what further support and assistance we can offer. If there is a similar commitment from all over the country this will ensure we can all play a part to meet the needs of people who are going through something that few people could even begin to imagine.”
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s five-year Business Plan commits to working with national, regional and local partners to support the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
Council owned homes are not planned to be used to meet the initial pledge to house three families and therefore it will not have an impact on the waiting time for local families who are already on the Council’s housing waiting list.