I am sure many residents, like me, have been shocked and concerned about the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded in Afghanistan. Setting aside whatever we may think about the events that led to the situation, the desperate scenes of people fleeing their home country are undeniably harrowing and are images that will stay with me.
Thousands of Afghan refugees have reached the UK and local Councils have a unique and vital role to play in helping them to resettle.
Central Bedfordshire Council was in discussions with the Home Office in the Summer and we were already helping to resettle families here prior to Kabul falling. We had absolutely no hesitation in helping and we are continuing to work closely with the Home Office to do more as Afghans leave their temporary accommodation arranged by the Home Office.
Resettlement is a long-term process and a whole range of council services are involved in ensuring these individuals and families have the support they need, this includes housing, children’s and adult social care, schools and educational services and support to access employment.
There is a big ask of local councils to provide this support. Whilst it is not something we shy away from I know from talking to residents that there are some concerns about how we will manage to provide the housing and other support that is needed. Government is providing councils with funding in recognition of the services we need to wrap around those who need our help. We are also working with our private landlords in the area to seek additional housing options so we can meet these needs of Afghans and anyone else in our area that needs our help.
Central Bedfordshire is a place that welcomes refugees, and we are ready to support Afghans in their time of need. I know that many of our residents want to help support these families too. You can read more about the best way to do this at this time on the Council website.