Lib Dem Leader, Councillor Kevin Guy, has commended the warm and welcoming community in Bath and North East Somerset and thanked all those who have come forward with offers of accommodation and other support for vulnerable Afghan refugees.
Councillor Guy also paid tribute to local partners such as Julian House, Bath Welcomes Refugees and others and thanked them for their efforts.
The first Afghan refugee families are expected to arrive in Bath and North East Somerset soon.
Speaking at this week’s Council meeting, Councillor Kevin Guy said:
“I am sure you have all been appalled by the heart-breaking situation which has been unfolding in Afghanistan over the recent weeks.
“Our role as a local authority is to work with the Government to offer a safe haven to vulnerable Afghan refugees through our co-ordinated resettlement schemes. Last month we announced that we stood ready to do this.
“We have a good track record in Bath and North East Somerset of welcoming refugees, since 2016 when we stepped forward to offer a safe haven for refugees from Syria.
“In this work, the Council acts as co-ordinator, and we have excellent local partners, who provide the level of support for people in need that is second-to-none. I am particularly thinking of Julian House, Bath Welcomes Refugees and others, whom the Council works closely with. On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank them and pay tribute to their generous efforts and all who work within them. I know there are also many people in the local area with connections to Afghanistan who will be keen to help.
“We called for landlords and residents with suitable accommodation to rent to ‘please come forward’. I am glad to report that we have a fantastic response from the B&NES community. We have had offers of accommodation and residents have also offered furniture and other items. Thank you to all those who have come forward.
“We are beyond fortunate to have such a warm and welcoming community in Bath and North East Somerset who have made so many kind offers over the last few weeks.
“The Home Office is in the process of matching families to properties and the first Afghan families are expected to arrive soon.
“The first wave of resettlement will be families arriving under the Afghan Local Employment Scheme. This scheme offers refuge to people who have had to flee Afghanistan because they have been working with our security forces. These people put their lives at risk to support UK forces in Afghanistan and we should be proud to do our duty to welcome them within our community.
“The Government has called for more local authorities to agree to host refugees. I am proud that Bath and North East Somerset was among the first to step forward last month. We should be doing everything in our power to bring safety and security to the people who need our help the most.”
Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse, applauded the community response to welcome refugees from Afghanistan:
“I’m extremely proud of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s action to take in as many Afghan refugees as possible. The community response has been nothing short of incredible and it makes me so proud to be part of such a welcoming and compassionate community.
“I cannot begin to imagine how tough it is for families who have had to flee Afghanistan. I’m very proud of the Council and other partners in Bath who have been working to support them. I will do my utmost to welcome them to our city.
“Whilst the Home Office has been ignoring requests from MPs' offices like mine who are doing their utmost to support constituents with family in Afghanistan, my colleagues in B&NES along with the partners in Bath have set a shining example of how to treat those in need.”