Last month (August) the Council said it would provide homes to three families as part of its response to the international crisis.
Since then, five further suitable properties have been put forward, including some which have been identified following conversations with housing associations working in the area. All the properties are being made available to support families relocating to the UK through the Afghan Locally Employed Support (LES) scheme, following a plea for Government for Councils to provide more housing help to Afghan nationals who worked for the British Government.
The intention is for Cambridge City Council’s experienced staff team to provide support to families as they arrive, helping them to establish new lives. This was already the arrangement for the first three properties identified for the LES scheme by South Cambridgeshire District Council.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr John Batchelor, said: “Just because news headlines are currently focused elsewhere doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about how important it is that we do what we can to help those fleeing events in Afghanistan. They need, and deserve, our help. I’m pleased that we are working closely with partners, Cambridge City Council, and housing associations, to provide essential housing and support to some people who are most in need. Linking Afghan families up with a home and support to build a new life is a very practical way that we can do our bit to assist. I wish the families who will be arriving soon all the very best in their new lives.”
Meanwhile, residents who wish to do something of their own to help families fleeing Afghanistan are being reminded that they can talk to the following organisations about what they might need, both now and into the future:
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign (volunteering and financial donations): www.cambridgerefugees.org
Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group: www.camcrag.org.uk (volunteering and financial donations)
Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum: www.cecf.co.uk
Distribute Aid: www.distributeaid.org
British Red Cross: www.redcross.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer
If Forces families are affected by the recent events re-awakening stress and trauma associated with previous conflict, help is also available.
Combat Stress now operates a 24-hour free, confidential helpline which is available by calling 0800 138 1619. Alternatively, text 07537 173683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For urgent and immediate support, you can reach the Samaritans on 116 123 or email@example.com
The Veterans’ Gateway helpline phone number is 0808 802 1212, or their website is www.veteransgateway.org.uk
Dedicated veterans’ mental health and wellbeing service Op COURAGE also supports Armed Forces veterans. Visit www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/armed-forces-community/mental-health/veterans-reservists/ or call 0300 323 0137 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The support from South Cambridgeshire District Council 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. 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 its partnership with Cambridge City Council.
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.