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(Image shows a C-17 used to evacuate Afghans as part of Op PITTING: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021)

As part of Operation Warm Welcome, the Government made a commitment to resettle thousands of Afghans who have risked their lives to support the UK. It is right we do all we can to ensure this commitment is upheld so that they and their families not only successfully transition to life in the UK but can also prosper.As a Service Charity, Help for Heroes has supported over 200 Afghan civilians and their families to resettle in the UK, many of whom risked their lives to support our Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Government Announcement

The Government recently announced its intention to remove Afghan civilians and their families from bridging hotels by the end of July. It will provide £35 million to help support local authorities to facilitate them moving into permanent accommodation and an additional £250 million will be given to the local authority housing fund, earmarked for building new houses over the next few years.

While the additional package of support and urgency to find housing for those still living in bridging hotels is positive, we have major concerns that the 3-month timeframe in which the Government aims to move 8,000 individuals into permanent homes is insufficient.

Support to find housing for Afghans in the UK has already helped around 9,000 people into settled accommodation. - UK MOD © Crown copyright

Our primary concern is that this latest initiative will cause further anxiety and upheaval for many families who now face a very real risk of being left homeless and destitute. The resettlement process has, for many, been considerably slower than planned.

While we appreciate it has been a difficult challenge for policymakers over the past 18 months, we are frustrated that the onus has now been placed on these individuals, as well as – often under resourced – local authorities and charities to deliver the Government’s own strategic promises.

Afghan families will now feel they have been given an unfair notice period to find settled and appropriate accommodation. Many have, understandably, put down roots in the local community, not only in terms of employment, but also in schools where their children are currently being educated and from the community support that Afghan groups value so much.

Project Solidarity case manager Keziah and Afghan refugee Ahmad
Project Solidarity case manager Keziah and Ahmad - Help for Heroes

"Through our own Project Solidarity, which aims to support resettled Afghans, we are seeing a high number of requests for mental health support, which is particularly the case for people staying long periods in bridging hotels. However, we also hear that many families, who have been allocated into housing, are experiencing poor living conditions, overcrowding, and – like so many others – are struggling with the cost-of-living.

"This emphasises the importance of having appropriate structures, processes and resources in place – derived from central Government – to help people build connections with statutory services, local authorities and third sector organisations who can support them and give them the best chance of successful resettlement and integration in the UK."

James Needham, Chief Executive at Help for Heroes

We help people who served in the British Armed Forces and their families. We also support people who worked alongside the UK military, such as cultural advisors and interpreters from Afghanistan. If you're in one of those groups and you think we might be able to help, please get in touch.

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