As Afghan refugees arrive in the UK, what can South Somerset do to help?
With thousands of Afghans brought to the UK since the Taliban's takeover, we have been asked how South Somerset residents can make a difference and help.
Out of more than 15,000 people flown into the UK, about 8,000 are eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
This allows Afghans who worked for the UK's military and government to make their move permanent, while others will arrive as part of the new Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme.
It will be a few weeks before families start arriving at locations across the country from national centres and there are several ways that you can help. All the information you need is below.
How can I help?
The Government’s Help Refugee Campaign website - https://helprefugees.campaign.gov.uk – features a wide range of practical information and guidance on how to provide support. This includes how to donate goods, services or your time; how to offer community sponsorship; how to offer work; details of charities offering support and how to volunteer.
You can also look at supporting a range of existing organisations across our community that may be called on to help Afghans and other refugees over the coming months such as your local foodbank or the baby bank network.
Care 4 Calais has announced it will be taking donations for Afghan refugees and its list of priority items for refugees is here - https://care4calais.org/documents/Priority-Items.pdf with drop-off points in Middle Chinnock and Wincanton - https://care4calais.org/thedropoffmap/
What further support can be provided?
If you are a private landlord with self-contained accommodation, we would like to hear from you. All Councils in Somerset are working together to find suitable accommodation. Please contact email@example.com.
Nationally several UK refugee organisations are currently fundraising to help Afghans, including:
In Somerset the key link is the refugee resettlement team at Somerset County Council - https://www.somerset.gov.uk/refugee-resettlement/
This website also includes some information on community sponsorship when a group of local people can come together and sponsor and support a refugee in their community.
You can donate or volunteer locally by contacting the following groups:
Langport Area Refugee Action (LARA) - https://m.facebook.com/Langport-Area-Refugee-Action-LARA-450086522024511
Refugee Aid Taunton (RAFT) - https://www.facebook.com/refugeeaidfromtaunton/
Refugee Action in Somerset East (RAISE) - https://raise.today/
Will Afghan refugees be arriving in South Somerset?
Locally, we will not be seeing families arriving in Somerset for a few weeks. We will be working together with partners to support the “warm welcome” programme whilst ensuring it does not impact on our nationally recognised work to provide accommodation and support to vulnerable people and families in need across South Somerset.