Peterborough prepares to resettle 100 Afghan refugees
The UK has vowed to welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees into the country following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last month.
The refugees who are expected to relocate here will be mainly families, and will be resettled as part of the national Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, and the broader Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme for other vulnerable Afghanis.
An offer to resettle a family can be made only at the point that suitable housing has been identified; as with its Syrian Refugee Resettlement programme, the council will be working with private sector landlords who are keen to support this work, as well as Cross Keys Homes and Accent Nene Housing.
The first families are expected to arrive in around four weeks’ time. The council currently has three properties available, with a number of others currently being assessed. But more properties for rent are needed so the council is calling for private landlords with homes suitable for families to get in touch.
The council will receive dedicated funding to support this work.
Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “We have a long history of welcoming new arrivals into our city, and we are fortunate to be able to work with some fantastic partners who want to help with this vital work.
“To coordinate this effort, we have formed a partnership taskforce comprising representation from council services, other public sector partners such as the police and the Department for Work and Pensions, and a range of voluntary and faith sector organisations.
"Between us, we will make sure that every house offered for resettlement is made to feel like a home for our new families: through the support of our partners, houses will be furnished, white goods will be provided, toys and books will be available, and essential supplies will be there on the day of arrival.
“We have also commissioned a befriending and support service, to help families orientate themselves into the city and their new lives, ensure that they register quickly with a GP, secure school places for their children, register for English-language courses where necessary, and begin their pathway into employment.
“We know that many people in our city are keen to offer help and support. We are especially keen to hear from landlords with suitable and available housing, as well as from anyone able to donate good quality large items of furniture, including beds and wardrobes.”
Meanwhile, community groups and local charities have united in their efforts to prepare for the refugees’ arrival. They are working hard to ensure they are stocked up on essential supplies including food, clothing and household items
The Butterfly Project Legacy Project which has supported the NHS staff during the pandemic by making hand-made face masks and scrubs are now looking for donations of fabric so they can stitch clothes for the refugees coming into the city.
The Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community Association (PARCA) helps thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from different countries every year. It offers practical support to people with helping them integrate in the local society, offers English classes, and provides a safe space to build networks and friendships and any other help the migrant population need to start their life afresh in the UK.
The centre is now getting ready to welcome Afghan refugees escaping the crisis and has been in touch with the local Hazara and the wider Afghan community-based in Peterborough.
PARCA chief Moez Nathu held an emergency meeting last week with the local Afghan community, attended by the city MP Paul Bristow and senior Conservative members from Peterborough City Council including Cllr Fitzgerald to discuss plans ahead of people arriving into the city.
Peterborough charity, Light House Community Group launched an appeal on August 23 in support of the Afghan Refugee Resettlement Scheme to the city. In just a few days, it has received an ‘overwhelming response’.
The group has formed a hub at the centre for the collection of items for the impending Afghan Refugees who are looking to come into the city as per the Local Authority’s pledge to take in refugees in the coming days or weeks.
More information on dropping off items or offering support can be found here.