At least 18 Afghan refugee families will be accommodated in Berkshire, but is that enough?
Berkshire will host and host at least 18 Afghan families, with each constituency supporting a different number of families.
It is difficult to answer the question of whether the councils are doing enough to support and relocate Afghan refugees, as some councils in the UK have claimed they cannot host refugees due to lack of funds .
The number of families and type of refugees hosted in Berkshire will be in line with information provided by the Home Office’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) program.
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The PFRA program will relocate locally employed staff working under Her Majesty’s Government who are at serious risk of their lives.
Those to be relocated include people who were patrol interpreters and cultural advisers as well as others involved in the fight against terrorism.
Essentially, LES workers will be the first refugees to be relocated by local councils across the UK.
The Afghan Citizen Resettlement Program will operate separately and the government has said it will welcome around 5,000 refugees under this program within a year.
This resettlement program will prioritize those who have assisted the UK’s efforts in Afghanistan as well as vulnerable people, including women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minorities or people from the LGBTQ + community, but currently, the government website states that “the program is not yet open.”
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As the announcements on this have yet to be confirmed, it is not yet clear which Berkshire councils will be involved in the program.
The Bracknell Forest Council website says it will carefully consider what additional support it can offer when more information is provided.
Families who are relocated to Berkshire under the current PFRA program will be offered; furnished accommodation, support for admission to school, access to health care, financial assistance and English lessons.
How many refugees will be accommodated in Berkshire?
- Bracknell – 2 families (around 8 – 10 individuals)
- Wokingham – 3 families
- Reading – 10 families
- Windsor and Maidenhead – (Number of families not yet established)
- West Berkshire – 3 families
- Slough – None (may be subject to change)
Is the advice doing enough?
The role of the council is to seek and provide accommodation for Afghan refugees in accordance with the instructions given to them by the Ministry of the Interior.
All of the refugee councils in Berkshire work with refugee charities to help them find permanent accommodation for them.
The Reading Refugee Support Group works with Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham Borough Councils, while the Slough Refugee Support Group works alongside the Royal Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor Council .
A Telegraph report estimates that just under 10 percent of councils in the UK have refused to accept refugees due to money concerns and councils across the country have requested that housing costs for the ‘PFRA last for five years, rather than 12 months as they don’t believe the £ 5million will be enough.
Slough has still not had any discussions with the government about welcoming Afghan families. This year they were declared bankrupt after a ‘black hole’ was discovered in its budget equivalent to £ 100million.
The other councils are currently working on finding accommodation for the refugees, but so far no families have been successfully relocated.
According to Nick Harbone, CEO of the Reading Refugee Support Group, there is a misconception that councils focus their efforts on housing issues by welcoming refugees.
Mr Harbone said: “The councils are responsible for finding accommodation for the number of families they will help and they are doing it through private sector landlords, which means there is no impact. on local housing waiting lists.
“This program does not displace families living in Reading awaiting relocation.”
Mr Harbone also explained that it has been a “very confusing time” as the Home Office has had to find very short-term hotels for the refugees.
“There is a lot of pressure on the councils to find accommodation for a lot of asylum seekers and refugees,” he said.
Taz Mohammed, CEO of Slough Refugee Support Group, said: “At the moment we are waiting to find accommodation and we are looking for houses with three or four bedrooms.
“We have approached private landlords and once we have sorted out the accommodation we will notify the Royal Borough and the Home Office.”
Although some councils have complained about tax problems associated with attempted repatriation of refugees, all constituencies in Berkshire have reportedly been inundated with donations and pledges of help from the public, without much need to ask.
A donor, Nadine Dawes, said: “I made a donation in the hope that it would make their transition a little easier. It must be absolutely horrible to have to leave your house, your family, everything you have known and besides not having the basic necessities like food, accommodation, cooking equipment, etc. when you arrive in your new home.
“It makes me sick to read and hear comments like“ we should help our own. ”It’s such a ridiculous thing to say because you can help many charities and people.
“Everyone deserves to be safe.”
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