A roundtable meeting on how York can best support the resettlement of Afghan refugees saw local faith groups, voluntary groups, landlords and other housing providers come together to mobilise and coordinate the city’s response.
The meeting, convened and chaired by Council Leader Keith Aspden, saw the panellists discuss lessons learned from the Syrian refugee resettlement scheme since 2014, the city’s ambition and capacity for support and next steps in the efforts to house and support those fleeing from Afghanistan.
Since the announcement that NATO military forces would withdraw from Afghanistan, the City of York Council started work alongside the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and MHCLG to support the national effort. City of York Council, as well as other local councils across Yorkshire, is supporting both the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy and the recently announced Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme. Supporting both schemes will ensure the city will welcome multiple Afghan families to the city in the next 12 months.
The Refugee Coordination Group, convened by the Council before this latest crisis, brings together organisations who are working with refugees in the city. This ensures coordination of effort, allowing agencies to share information and knowledge, spots any gaps in provision, promotes excellent customer service and prevents duplication of work. This group has worked well in adding value to the support provided to Syrian refugees and other groups in the city and will be used to ensure comprehensive, joined-up support is provided to the Afghan refugees.
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of the Council, commented:
“I’m thankful to partners across the city that are ready to support our efforts and ensure that as a city we do all we can to help those Afghan families looking for a safe and welcoming new home.
“We have the established support networks, experience and leadership to ensure that we support as many families as possible.
“Whilst we are ready to do our bit locally, the Government must step up and provide clear guidance and funding for local authorities to house and support refugees so to not place more strain on already overstretched budgets.”
Rev Councillor Chris Cullwick, The Lord Mayor of York, added:
“York has a proud record of providing sanctuary to those in need and I’m glad to see the city come together once again.
“In the aftermath of the horrific news from Afghanistan, it was truly heart-warming to see so many kind offers of support from people across the city, once again showing the spirit and generosity of York.
“The organisations and leaders present at the roundtable meeting were clear in their ambition and willingness to support the Council-led efforts and I would like to thank them for their ongoing support.”