Thursday, 16 September, 2021
In July, as the situation in Afghanistan rapidly worsened, Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) responded quickly to offer support to families at risk of persecution and death as a result of working alongside British Forces.
SHBC's urgent action meant families could be relocated to Surrey Heath without delay, and they could begin new lives following emergency evacuation from Afghanistan.
As part of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), four Afghan families have now arrived in Surrey Heath. We are awaiting confirmation of the fifth family's arrival.
Whilst we're proud of our response we also owe thanks to the Home Office and Accent Housing for their tireless efforts and support. Our initial response would not have been as robust or swift without their assistance.
We continue to work alongside volunteers, businesses, local churches, mosques and charities to support the families and help them settle into their new lives. The flood of offers of donations and support for the Afghan families in the Borough has been very humbling and we'd like to thank everyone involved for their hard work, dedication and generosity during this very difficult time.
Having spent weeks in hotel accommodation across the country the families relocating to Surrey Heath are in temporary accommodation for the time being. The first family who arrived in the Borough are in the process of signing a tenancy agreement for a long-term rented property, which is fantastic news.
A huge amount of progress has taken place over the last few weeks thanks to the hard work of the families themselves, together with the assistance of our Family Support team and our partners and volunteers.
All families are registered with local GPs to ensure they can access medical care and advice, and bank accounts have been set up. The families are starting to explore their local communities visiting local libraries, playgrounds and shops and are beginning to meet other residents.
With the Council's support one individual has already secured employment, demonstrating early success from guidance on CV compilation and job applications.
Local businesses have also kindly contacted us with offers of items, help and support for the families too as they continue to settle in, including practical advice, job seeking help, and access to facilities.
We're grateful and proud of the response from our community so far, but also recognise that this is an ongoing situation which may require longer term support.
If you would like to donate anything to support our new families please help us to ensure all offers and donations are directed to the right place - details below:
- All offers of donations (items and financial) for those who are resettling should be emailed to: email@example.com - our team will respond to all enquiries and offers.
- For anyone who would like to support the Camberley Besom with donations meeting the wider needs of our local community – whether financial, food or other items - please continue to use the usual channels for this.
- If you have a property you think might be suitable to rent to one of the families, please send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to discuss further.
Across Surrey, residents who would like to support those who are being resettled from Afghanistan are being advised that financial donations to charities that are best equipped to immediately support them are requested. The Community Foundation for Surrey is set up to administer these donations locally and information on how to donate can be found on their website.
Alternatively, the Red Cross is already active in managing donations and supporting arrivals from Afghanistan.