Council pledges support to Afghan refugees
Wednesday 1 September: Hillingdon Council has pledged to support the government in welcoming refugees from Afghanistan and offered to receive families when the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy was first announced.
Like other local authorities, Hillingdon has been concerned by recent events in Afghanistan, and the council is continuing to work with the UK government's emergency Afghan resettlement scheme to see what further help it can provide, while recognising the enormous shortage of affordable large family homes locally.
As a gateway borough to the UK, council officers already work hard to support many asylum seekers (the second highest number in London) from a variety of countries, including Afghanistan, by funding access to social care, housing, education and other services.
While the council is committed to helping refugees, it has to balance this with the need to fund existing services and support Hillingdon residents to achieve their housing needs.
Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ian Edwards, said: "Hillingdon residents expect us to fulfil our humanitarian duty and assist refugees who are seeking safety in this country and we are keen to do this. As a port authority, we are supporting a high number of asylum seekers without sufficient funding. This in turn creates additional pressure on our finances, and we are asking the government to plug the gap and encourage more local authorities to play their part.
"We are working with the government to identify what more we can do to help with the resources, particularly the housing, available to us in Hillingdon."
The council is working with local and national partners, including the government, to ensure those arriving from Afghanistan are well looked after.
This a fast-moving situation. However, the immediate priority is helping refugee families who have risked their lives to assist our Armed Forces. The Home Office has outlined its Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, and as part of this scheme the council will be helping to house a number of refugees within the borough and ensure they have access to financial assistance from the government.
The council is awaiting further details on how the Home Office plans to support other Afghan refugees who may arrive in the future.
Voluntary organisations have reported being overwhelmed with generous donations and are asking for no more to be sent at this time. However, if you would like to find out how you can help, visit www.rescue-uk.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.