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Refugee welcome group in Peterborough will help re-settle Afghan families

Work to launch a Refugee Welcome Group in Peterborough, an informal network to help with the resettlement of Afghan families in the city, is progressing.
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Citizen's UK and PCC extend helping hand to Afghan community

Peterborough Citizens in partnership with PARCA, the British Red Cross, the Light Project Peterborough and a range of other organisations is launching Refugee Welcome Peterborough, an informal network to help with the resettlement of Afghan families in the Peterborough. 

Peterborough Citizens is an alliance of civil society institutions that work together for the common good. Its member institutions include schools, colleges, academy trusts, universities, churches, mosques, trade unions and charitable organisations.

It is affiliated to Citizens UK, the UK’s largest civic alliance that has a proud tradition of campaigning on refugee welcome. One of its most celebrated campaign wins including ending child detention in 2014. 

On Wednesday (October 20) the group met online to evaluate the appetite for a refugee welcome group and to forward plan their ambitions for the refugees arriving into the city as part of the Afghan refugee settlement plan. 

The network, comprising civil society institutions (schools, colleges, universities, churches, mosques, trade unions and third sector organisations), will focus initially on supporting the city council realise its ambition of settling 25 families (100 individuals) through the Home Office’s Afghan resettlement schemes.

The first task of the network will be to increase the housing available for families settling in the city by encouraging private landlords to make their housing available.  

The partners discussed potential support they can each offer and outlined the role they would like to play in this new welcome group. 

Some suggested there should be provisions to help integrate the refugees into British society and give them an insight into everyday rules and ways of life here in Peterborough, while others offered to continue their work of collecting donations of everyday necessities for the people coming in. 

Peterborough Matters offered to share stories of the refugees and highlight the challenges they have encountered to get here in a bid to bridge cultural barriers. 

Rachel Nicholls, co-chair of Peterborough Citizens and principal of Peterborough College said: "Peterborough has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees and helping them rebuild their lives. When the crisis in Afghanistan broke in August we immediately reached out to the local MP and the city council to offer our help.

"Our primary aim in setting up this network is to give our members a platform to assist the resettlement in the city as well as linking with organisations in the city with expertise in the resettlement."

Louise Lawson of the British Red Cross said: “The British Red Cross is currently providing practical and emotional support to Afghan families living in temporary accommodation across the UK. Many of these people have faced incredibly painful and difficult journeys.  

“All have been forced to leave their homes. Many have left behind loved ones. The sooner they are able to relocate into longer-term accommodation, the sooner they can begin rebuilding their lives. We are proud to be part of a network that will help this become a reality for Afghan families living in temporary accommodation in the UK.” 

Steven Pettican of Light Project Peterborough said: “Light Project Peterborough has a history of working with those most in need in our amazing city. Every day we are supporting many people to overcome life barriers that prevent them fulfilling their great potential.  

“There are those that have been in our city all their lives and those that have come from countries all over the world. We support everyone where we can, giving impartial non judgmental advice and support and it is great to be part of this network to help new people successfully integrate into our city.” 

Over the coming months the network is hoping to find eight houses for Afghan families being resettled in the city.

If you own a property and would be happy to rent it to an Afghan family for a period of three years at a rent consistent with the housing benefit cap, or if you would like to get involved in the alliance, please get in touch - Dilraj.kaur@citizensuk.org