Our support for Afghan people coming to the UK
Wiltshire Council is one of a number of local authorities that have offered to provide homes to families who are fleeing Afghanistan.
The Government has announced plans to welcome Afghan people to the UK as part of a new resettlement scheme and the council has said it will help Afghan citizens settle in Wiltshire as part of this new scheme once further details emerge.
Read our latest news on the scheme and support available.
Private landlords: We are asking private landlords who have affordable property or properties to let, to send in the details. People can either do this by using the Wiltshire Council survey detailing types of property available or use the government portal for housing offers. Thank you for your support.
Welcome Fund will help refugees and asylum seekers build a new life in Wiltshire
A fund to help refugees and asylum seekers build new lives in the county has been launched by Wiltshire Community Foundation.
The Welcome Fund has been inspired by the plight of Afghans coming to the UK in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country but will be used to help all refugees and asylum seekers who want to make Wiltshire and Swindon their home.
Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said the fund will be used to support charities and groups across Swindon and Wiltshire who work with refugees and asylum seekers.
"We have been approached by donors who want to support the refugees so we are launching the Welcome Fund to give those who want to help a platform for doing so," she said.
"The situation with refugees arriving from Afghanistan is very fluid at the moment and the intention of this fund is to meet not just their immediate needs of clothing or food but to be there in the longer term when they need more specific help in settling into a new life and establishing themselves within our communities."
"We will be talking to the voluntary groups and charities who are supporting refugees and asylum seekers so we can understand what their needs are likely to be in the longer term. It could be to assist with things like language skills, provide pathways into education or employment, improve support for physical and mental health or help them connect with the communities they are living in."
The community foundation has a track record in funding groups who support refugees and asylum seekers, including The Harbour Project, Swindon City of Sanctuary, Swindon Women's Aid, Splitz and Kennet Furniture Refurbiz. But Mrs Oliver said this fund will be a dedicated and flexible resource for groups and charities who help them integrate.
"Our fund is a long-term initiative to support projects and activities that aid the overall integration of those newly arrived in our county, enabling them to feel welcomed, valued and become active members of our communities," said Mrs Oliver.
Claire Garrett, chief executive of The Harbour Project, has welcomed the fund. She said: "This fund potentially allows us and groups like us to extend and expand our delivery as well as offering some surety that we can keep our doors open for as long as there is a need. It also offers the opportunity to share experience within the voluntary sector by building skills and capacity across Wiltshire.
"Being an asylum seeker is a short interval in someone's life. Their very simple request is that they can get on with their lives in a fair and safe place, leaving behind the fear and trauma that drove them from their homes, friends and family. Our role is to help people along the way, to build the skills and confidence to navigate the UK, establish their own network of friends and contribute to their local community."
The fund is also being endorsed by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council, which have both been helping refugees and asylum seekers settle into the county.
Cllr Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council said: "The people of Wiltshire are incredibly generous and since the beginning of the crisis in Afghanistan they have sought to help in any way they can.
"Here in Wiltshire we are making preparations to welcome 20 households permanently under the Locally Employed Scheme and a number of Afghan families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy. We are currently working alongside partners to ensure we have the homes and resources available to meet the need and make them feel at home here.
"This fund will mean donations can be targeted and used in effective ways so refugees and asylum seekers coming to the county can be assured a warm welcome and will have the support they need to settle here in the county."
Cllr David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: "We, alongside our statutory partners, have a strong and proud track record for delivering services to those who have no option but to flee their home country. This is no more apparent than the work currently taking place to look after Afghan refugees in Swindon and Wiltshire to make them feel as welcome and at home as possible.
"We're doing all we can here in Swindon and it was recently agreed by Cabinet that the council will provide support to those Afghans temporarily accommodated in Swindon under the national Afghan Resettlement and Assistance Policy as well as for up to four households being permanently accommodated under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
"We know that members of the public are also keen to support those in need and this new fund is a great way, for those who wish to, to make a donation and help towards our local response."
Mrs Oliver welcomed the councils' support, saying: "We hope their support, and the generosity of the people of Wiltshire and Swindon, who have shown time and again that this county throws open its doors to people in need, will build the Welcome Fund into a long-term resource that helps individuals and families make a secure and happy home here."
To find out more about the fund and to donate, go to Wiltshire Community Foundation.
Frequently asked questions
We know people will have a number of questions around the situation in Afghanistan and how we can support those coming over to the UK.
We are working closely with the Home Office to ensure arrangements are in place but cannot give a definitive date at this time.
Currently Wiltshire Council is making plans to welcome three families to Wiltshire as part of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which started in April and was in place before recent events in Afghanistan made the situation more urgent. This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to families who will settle in Wiltshire.
The Prime Minister announced in Parliament in August a new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) (in addition to the current running ARAP scheme) and the UK is committed to take 20,000 with 5,000 in the first year. We have written to the Home Office to say we will take 20 households as part of this scheme.
People have been generously offering support and donations and we are grateful for all the offers of help. Wiltshire Council is asking people to hold onto these goods for the moment and will say where and when they can be delivered. The government has also set up a national link for those wanting to offer help.
The government has advised Afghan families will need individual properties and won't be given a shared room in a house. If however you have a spare room and would consider supported lodgings for an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) then we can talk you through how this works. To find out more visit Supported lodgings, email email@example.com or call 01225 716 510.
People who live in Wiltshire who need affordable homes join the council's housing waiting list Homes4wilts and then bid for available affordable homes. Those who are successful in bidding for affordable homes are referred by the council to the affordable housing provider. The Afghan families will not be included in that process. Instead, they will move into private rented homes the same as any other household in Wiltshire who is looking for a suitable home in the private rented sector. The council can't control whether landlords want to offer their homes to Afghan families or not but is asking those who may have a home to come forward. The council will then identify suitable homes and provide the support so the Afghan family can take up the tenancy.
No. We have a strong team of officers working closely with homeless people to ensure they are aware of the options for moving into homes. More information about the support we provide for those who are homeless is available at Homelessness.
We know many people who have served in the military are suffering at the moment. There are a number of charities ready to offer support and help. These include Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes, Armed Forces Covenant and SSAFA.
We are making plans to welcome some families under this scheme which started in April and was in place before recent events in Afghanistan made the situation more urgent. This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to families who will settle in Wiltshire. These families have homes ready for them.
However, the Prime Minister recently announced in Parliament that a new Afghan resettlement scheme is being launched (in addition to the current running ARAP scheme) to take 20,000 with 5,000 in the first year. Wiltshire Council has said it will help more Afghan refugees settle in Wiltshire as part of this new scheme once further details emerge.