100 Afghan refugees could be housed in Swindon

Around 100 Afghan refugees, some of whom are already living in Swindon, could be helped and supported for the next year, if a new recommendation to Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet is approved.

If it is, four families from the war-torn country will also be helped to settle in the borough permanently.

The report has been produced partly in response to a motion put to council by Vijay Manro and passed unanimously last month asking the authority to look into what assistance it can provide to refugees and report back to cabinet.

The report said there are already people from Afghanistan who have been placed in Swindon by the Government and more can be expected: “The council needs to act urgently in this instance. The first arrivals in Swindon of Afghan guests under the national resettlement and assistance policy have occurred,” it said.

“The Home Office was unable to give the council notice and therefore the council is already providing an interim emergency response for these arrivals.”

Officers have asked for authority to support the placed refugees for the next 12 months.

“Due to the urgency of the situation, households leaving Afghanistan are being temporarily accommodated across the UK under emergency Home Office provisions. This includes the placing of approximately 100 individuals within the borough over the next 12 months.”

They remain the responsibility of the Home Office while they stay in Swindon and will eventually be permanently rehoused across the UK.

The plan to support the guests would see a ‘warm welcome’ team set up to help those in Swindon. It would hold regular surgeries and advice sessions, work with charities and community groups to arrange activities, and make connections with local groups. It would also manage donations and offers of support from the community, ensure fair and equitable distribution and help with agencies like the Department for work and pensions and other local and national government departments.

The report emphasises the needs of women and girls must be addressed so they are able to access services and participate in settlement programme.

Costs of accommodating and assisting the 100 or so temporary residents will be met by central government.

“The council will receive Home Office funding to cover the costs for wraparound support of up to £875 per person per month. It will be carefully monitored to ensure costs of the warm welcome team and any back filling of secondments are covered.”

The report recommends approval for a plan to offer four families from Afghanistan a permanent home in Swindon, supported by the Government for four months.

Coun Manro said: “I’m pleased at what is being proposed in the cabinet report. But I think it’s something to build on. Once we’ve got four families settled I’d like the council to see what more it could do.”

The cabinet will meet at 6pm on Wednesday October 13 at the civic offices in Euclid Street.

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