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County Durham support for Afghan Refugees

Published September 01, 2021 3.43pm

Durham County Council Elected members and staff has watched the events unfolding in Afghanistan in recent weeks with sadness.

Some months ago the council agreed to be part of the government funded ARAP (Afghanistan Relocation and Assistance Programme) which is targeted at those Afghan nationals that have supported the British mission in the region and families have now started to arrive into County Durham as part of this scheme. In line with current government advice to maintain confidentiality, we are not releasing details of the numbers and locations of the families.

In order to help the families settle into their new homes, and come to terms with the significant life changing events they have gone through to reach the UK, the council is working alongside a range of partners, including faith groups, the voluntary sector as well as comprehensive engagement with a number of Social Landlords, to help ensure their transition to life in Durham is as positive as possible. As part of this work, and building on our experience of supporting refugees from other parts of the world, the council is working with our existing partners to help ensure they have access to any essentials they might need to help make a new life in the UK.

Whilst it is testament to the charitable nature of our communities that we have received so many offers of clothing and furniture for the families, we are in the fortunate position of being able to meet that need through our existing network. However, we are conscious that there are many people in our communities who might benefit from support and assistance at this time, and we recommend if you have donations to help families in need, you contact your local charity outlets to enquire if they have the capacity to receive your kind donations.

We understand the government is considering whether it would be helpful to have a national system to co-ordinate offers of support, particularly for those areas where Afghan nationals are being temporarily accommodated in quarantine hotels. At present there are no such facilities in the county. Should there be a decision to establish a nationally co-ordinated donation scheme, we will provide further information on this site.

One of the key organisations we work with on humanitarian support is Durham City of Sanctuary. The group support refugees and asylum seekers across the county to integrate into living in Durham. If you would like learn more about Durham City of Sanctuary you can visit their website at Durham City of Sanctuary to hear more about their work. Alternatively, if you are minded to do so, and are able to afford it, you can become a member of the group, for which there is an annual fee of £1 or you might want to consider contributing to their Just Giving page.

Thank you once again to the many who have offered help at this time and we look forward to you helping to make Durham a welcoming place for those making their home in the county from parts of the world where they are no longer safe.