Stoke-on-Trent City Council is to co-ordinate generous offers of support for Afghan refugees across the city.
Through its initiative #StokeonTrentTogether and working with the VAST network and other partners across the city, the city council wants to make sure that any pledges of support get to those Afghans who come to live in the city and that no offer goes unheard.
It comes after a number of people, organisations, charities and others have contacted the city council to help after seeing the plight in Afghanistan in recent days and weeks.
Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Across the city people have been moved to ask what they can do to support any refugees from Afghanistan, having seen some of the heart-wrenching situations people there are finding themselves in. We all know that Stoke-on-Trent is the kindest city in the UK – our citizens have proved this time and time again and this time is no different. From Lidice to Syria to Afghanistan, the people of Stoke-on-Trent have a proven track record of supporting others when they need it most.
“And while so much is still unclear about the refugees coming here. What we do know is that many people want to help. We’ve once again partnered with VAST, and other partners in the voluntary sector, and we’re urging those grassroots organisations, community groups, businesses and individuals who want to help to get in touch to let us know what services they can provide. This will allow us to coordinate all these offers of support quickly across the city to make the biggest difference.”
The council has already offered thanks to those across the city who have taken the time to contact it with kind offers of practical support for people fleeing the Taliban.
The situation in Afghanistan is fast moving. On Wednesday 18 August, the Prime Minister announced that the UK would resettle a further 20,000 people fleeing the Taliban – 5,000 in the first year – as part of a new Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme. Across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, 25 families will be supported under the UK Government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). The ARAP scheme was launched in April this year to resettle Afghan nationals whose lives are at risk because they supported British operations in Afghanistan. While work is underway behind the scenes to prepare for arrivals in the city, the council is still waiting for the Home Office to provide more information about how the scheme will work, funding arrangements, and who will be eligible to apply.
As part of #StokeonTrentTogether, people can get involved and pledge support in a number of ways. If people want to donate items but don’t know where to go they can email the information to email@example.com or call 01782 234234.
If people want to volunteer their time – they can go through the Vast portal - https://vast.org.uk/become-a-volunteer/
The city council and VAST will work to support around donations of food, clothing, toys, household items, furniture, befriending and hygiene products and ensure they go to the people that need it the most.
The news comes as Government has this morning announced an extra 2.7 million to support veteran mental health in the wake of Afghanistan. This funding will go to increase NHS Op Courage delivery which will provide mental health support to veterans.