BURY: First Afghan refugee family to settle in Bury are ‘overwhelmed’ at warm welcome
The first Afghan family of refugees to be resettled in Bury, who arrived in the past week, were ‘overwhelmed’ at the warm welcome they received, councillors have heard.
Bury Council is making available an extra 10 homes in the borough to those fleeing Afghanistan as part of a national programme of resettlement, meaning between 30 and 40 refugees are to settle in the borough.
A meeting of Bury Council’s overview and scrutiny committee heard that in addition to the Afghan crisis response, the authority supports the dispersal of around 40 families each year, through government agency Serco, who deal with asylum seekers and refugees.
Another priority scheme the council is supporting is the Hong Kong UK Welcome Programme.
Serco currently have 139 properties in the private rented sector throughout Bury borough supporting more than 450 asylum seekers and refugees.
Coun Clare Cummins addressed the committee, giving them an update about emergency housing in the borough.
She, said: ” Bury Council has managed to facilitate an offer of 10 houses sufficient for 30 to 40 people to assist in the current Afghan crisis.
“This provision will be made through the commissioned sector which protects council stock for statutory duties.
“The response and allocation is being co-ordinated at Greater Manchester level.
“I am very glad to say an Afghan family matched by the Home Office arrived in Bury on November 15 and they’re overwhelmed by the welcome that they’ve received.”
Coun Cummins said that despite the Afghan crisis, demand and funding for asylum and immigration support has generally reduced in recent years.
The council assist in priority resettlement by working with Serco and Bury’s social landlords, using its own supported housing portfolio and works with other agencies to provide wider resettlement support, in particular health care and schools.
The national Afghan citizens resettlement scheme will provide protection for people at risk identified as in need.
The scheme prioritises those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law, vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups.
The government has committed to welcome around 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.
The scheme is in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme, which has already settled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK government, and their families.
Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter
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