Cambridgeshire County Council pledges further support for Afghan refugees
The county council has set out “a raft of measures” to support Afghan refugees moving to Cambridgeshire.
Councillors supported a motion presented by Cllr Tom Sanderson (Ind, Huntingdon West) at a full council meeting on November 9 pledging further support.
Cllr Sanderson said all councillors would have seen “harrowing images” of Afghan citizens trying to flee Afghanistan in fear of their safety following the Taliban takeover.
A dozen refugee families from Afghanistan are currently in Cambridgeshire, he said.
Cllr Sanderson said: “Colleagues today will be aware that several thousand Afghan nationals have already been welcomed in the UK, but the speed at which the operation to evacuate people from Afghanistan was such that a huge number are still accommodated in temporary housing and in hotels.
“Cambridgeshire is a welcoming, compassionate and caring county and this council has a positive track record of supporting our residents and providing them with opportunities to thrive and succeed regardless of their background and circumstances.
“Now more than ever we need to step forward as a council, and as a society, offering a hopeful and positive future to our newly arrived Afghan citizens, and this motion sets out a raft of measures which we must take to play our part.
“We’ve already worked closely with our district and city council partners who are leading the work to identify suitable housing, but there is still so much more we can do and must do to help our newest residents settle.
“We need to help them to integrate and achieve in their new home and their new country as much as possible.”
The motion was approved by the councillors, committing the county council to the following steps:
- To sustain, for “as long as is necessary, an open, practical, creative and solutions-focussed dialogue” with the district and city councils in Cambridgeshire.
- To help facilitate identifying suitable housing.
- To provide training for frontline officers and managers to help them understand the context and circumstances within which the Afghan citizens have arrived in Cambridgeshire.
- To make sure that all of the county council’s services, “especially education, social care and public health” are ready to support Afghans arriving in the county.
- To create and deliver a Libraries of Sanctuary programme that will welcome and support Afghans and others arriving in the county.
- To “proactively identify” jobs and apprenticeship opportunities within the council for Afghans.
- To make sure the county council’s adult skills service, Cambridgeshire Skills, creates “bespoke” English-language courses that will meet the needs of the new arrivals where the “national offer falls short”, or where more specialist language training is needed, and to make sure the service is accessible.
- To “mobilise” the county’s community resilience group to share the responsibility to welcome new arrivals and support their integration into society.