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HBC Cabinet to discuss support for Afghan refugees

Hastings Borough Council is set to discuss the council’s commitment to supporting Afghan refugees arriving in this country for resettlement. The matter is on the Cabinet agenda for early January. Nick Terdre reports.

Cabinet members are due to discuss committing to help up to 54 Afghan individuals under two government schemes: 14 under the Afghan Locally Employed Staff (LES) Relocation Scheme and up to 40 individuals under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

The discussion will take place at the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday 4 January which will be live-streamed.

The LES scheme – also known as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) – was opened in April for staff formerly employed by the UK government in Afghanistan whose lives were assessed to be at serious risk following the Taliban take-over.

In September the council said it had been allocated two families to be resettled under this scheme. HOT understands at least one of the families is now resident here.

The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme was announced by the government in August for Afghans given visas to come to this country during the chaotic period when the Taliban were taking control of their country. Some were evacuated to the UK at the time, others fled the country, some making their way to camps in neighbouring countries, and yet others are still in Afghanistan, many in hiding.

However it emerged recently that the Home Office has still not opened the resettlement scheme, and, despite promising a “warm welcome” to Afghan refugees, has made the criteria for former employees allowed into the UK more restrictive.

On the other hand any Afghan refugees arriving across the English Channel could find themselves detained, imprisoned, deported or sent to a holding centre in a foreign country if the Nationality and Borders bill going through Parliament becomes law.

Homes in Rother

Meanwhile Rother District Council told HOT that “safe and comfortable” homes have been found for two families under the Arap scheme.

“East Sussex local housing authorities have discussed an indicative target to resettle 200 people across the whole of East Sussex through the ACRS and Arap programmes,” a spokesperson said. The rationale for this number is that it represents one per cent of the 20,000 Afghan refugees the Government has committed to accept while the population of East Sussex represents one per cent of the population of the UK.

“We have an existing UK Resettlement Programme team that have been supporting the Government’s various commitments to resettle refugees from Syria and the wider region,” the spokesperson added.

“The team has been enhanced to meet the needs of the Afghan households we have committed to resettle. The team provides a comprehensive support package to refugees throughout the resettlement period including assistance with accessing language classes, education, health and social care services as well as support with a range of activities to promote their integration into our community.”

Supporting refugees

“As a town we have always supported refugees who are in need of safety and security, and these schemes are no different,” said Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing.

“We already have several Syrian refugee families settled in our town, through a Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement programme. Through this we know what works and we are proposing to work with community groups including The Refugee Buddy Project, the Links Project and Hastings Community of Sanctuary to ensure these new programmes are successful.”

As with previous resettlement schemes, Hastings council will be looking to rehouse the refugees in private rented accommodation rather than using social housing due to the pressures on local housing supply.

The council reiterated its call for property owners with self-contained accommodation to consider making it available for Afghan refugee families; they are asked to make contact by email at housingadvice@hastings.gov.uk. Similarly any employers in a position to offer job openings are also encouraged to get in touch.

Property owners with accommodation to offer in Rother should write to tenant.finder@rother.gov.uk.

For families accepted for resettlement in the town, there is also a proposal to match-fund a CHART (Connecting Hastings and Rother Together) project to help them find employment, HBC said.

 

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Posted 21:30 Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 In: Local Government

2 Comments

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  1. Passing By

    Just met a delightful couple from Afghanistan with their little absolutely gorgeous daughter one year and 10months old, soon to attend nursery.
    From what I understand, they have a roof over their head and you should have seen their gratitude and carefulness in trying to integrate to local customs.
    Brought tears to my eyes.

    I wish them huge amounts of goodness and luck and I’m certain that they will be a fantastic contributing family to this council with the help to get on their feet again from thousands of miles away to fully paying taxpayers as is their aim.

    Comment by Passing By — Friday, Jan 14, 2022 @ 14:18

  2. Laurence Keeley

    Would it ot a better idea to create camp for the refugees by the link road before more houses are built there the people could then be together,creating a self-sufficient food growing area,and build a community,Government Money we have could build a place for cooking,eating and educating them,this does not have to be tents,but something like Shepherd’s huts or yurts.

    Comment by Laurence Keeley — Thursday, Dec 23, 2021 @ 08:15

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