'Superb' efforts to get Norfolk homes ready for Afghan refugees

Norfolk home for Afghan refugees

One of the homes which has been furnished ahead of the arrival of Afghan refugees. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The "superb" efforts to prepare accommodation for the Afghan refugees who will be arriving in Norfolk has been praised, but concerns remain over the long-term funding to support them.

It is still unclear how many of the refugees airlifted out of Afghanistan, after the Taliban took control, will be settled in Norfolk, but there is a race against time to get homes ready for them.

The refugees are being settled in Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland in private accommodation, with an appeal having gone out to landlords to offer up homes.

And The Lady Dannatt, Lord- Lieutenant of Norfolk, has praised the "superb, co-ordinated effort" to prepare the accommodation.

The Lady Dannatt

The Lady Dannatt. - Credit: Michael Waller-Bridge

Councils, including Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council have been working to get homes ready.

They have done so following donations from Norfolk people of furniture, electronic items and other furnishings made via https://www.gov.uk/help-refugees

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Alive UK is collecting clothing donations, while Mothers' Union Norwich donated bed linen.

Some refugees, who had mainly worked as interpreters, had already been settled under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.

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But, under the government's new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme more are due to arrive.

And there are concerns over whether the government funding will be sufficient for the long-term support which will be needed.

The government announced a package of funding under Operation Warm Welcome, including £200m to meet the cost of the first year of the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.

But a Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "We have not received the details from the Home Office to accompany this announcement, however, both tiers of council are supporting this scheme, which aims to house families and individuals in privately rented accommodation, coordinated in partnership with the private sector housing teams in our district councils.”

Alan Waters, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said it was essential money for long-term support was "baked in", beyond the first year and Clive Lewis, Norwich South Labour MP, said the government must provide sufficient funding.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate and addressed the dental care crisis

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. - Credit: Anthony Kelly

Afghan resettlement minister Victoria Atkins said: "Operation Warm Welcome is a huge effort across government to make sure that those fleeing Afghanistan are able to make a success of a new life in the UK."

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