“We will open our arms and hearts to Afghanistan refugees”

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Cllr Franklin Owusu-Antwi.

A contribution from Cllr Franklin Owusu-Antwi, South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet member for public health and equality of opportunity, Afghanistan veteran and the council’s armed forces champion.

We have all seen the events unfolding in Afghanistan in the recent days and weeks with, I’m sure, a sense of horror and frustration. Particularly too, for those who have served and worked to help that country over the past 20 years, we have also worried about the safety of those local people we worked alongside and who were vital to that work.

The risks to those who helped us were significant as they stood alongside us in Afghanistan and are now even greater purely because they stood with us, but our personnel have left the country. That is to say nothing of the civilians, particularly women, who may never have worked alongside British staff, but who were able to enjoy increased liberalisation in terms of access to education, work and freedom to determine their own destinies.

That is why, as South Gloucestershire Council’s armed forces champion, I am pleased we are standing by to play our part in supporting those who will be resettled from Afghanistan by the government.

We have already begun to make arrangements with partner organisations, who will be able to work directly with those who settle here, so that they can be supported to start a new life in South Gloucestershire, and have identified several suitable homes for families who need to be evacuated, so that they can be given a safe and supported welcome.

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With the need likely to increase as time goes on, we are also asking that property owners with potentially suitable homes let us know so that we can extend our offer further.

We rightly stand by our own armed forces veterans and others who risked and sacrificed so much to help in Afghanistan, so it is right that we also now stand by those Afghans who worked alongside us, sharing the same risks and who are now facing new threats, and who now need our help.

South Gloucestershire is a wonderful place to live. It is safe and welcoming and I know that we will all open our arms and our hearts to those who have helped us and who now need our support.

• Owners of properties in South Gloucestershire who believe they may have suitable accommodation available in the coming weeks and months who would like to discuss providing housing for those being resettled are invited to contact sghomes@southglos.gov.uk Rent will be paid within the housing benefit cap.

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 3). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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