Final Afghan families set to leave quarantine hotels
The last group of Afghan families who have been self-isolating at two Stansted airport hotels are due to leave for ‘bridging’ accommodation before moving to permanent new homes.
The families will move on to new locations, which are part of a national network set up by the Home Office, across the country.
Over 400 Afghans who were evacuated from Kabul airport in August have quarantined at the Stansted hotels, supported by local GPs, councils and through generous donations of items such as clothing and children’s toys from Essex residents.
‘Bridging’ accommodation at hotels has been set up by the Home Office across the country, with three hotels in Essex at Colchester, Chelmsford and most recently Southend-on-Sea providing accommodation.
15 families are currently being supported in hotels in Chelmsford and Colchester.
These families arrived in the country through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, having been ‘locally employed staff’ (for example, interpreters) in Afghanistan.
They are being supported by Essex County Council in terms of welfare and education needs for children and adults. Families have also been registered with local GP surgeries. Additional needs or requirements are being met through the Essex Welfare Service, who have set up collection points for donated items.
The County Council is also supplying laptops to families.
Essex Integration, a not-for-profit organisation is also providing integration support to families, and the local Essex Department for Work and Pensions service are also processing benefit claims. This is all part of the Team Essex approach.
Identifying and securing permanent homes for families is a work in progress, with housing staff from district and borough councils leading this part of the process along with ECC and the government department teams.
A third hotel in Essex, the IBIS at Birchanger Green, is also providing Home Office-organised bridging accommodation for migrants including Afghan families. Agencies including councils and local GP surgeries providing support until families are able to move on to new locations.
Last week Essex Local Authorities announced a new task force to set up to finding homes for Afghan families, with district, borough and city councils already working hard to bring forward the right sort of homes.
In other developments this week, the Home Office announced details of the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), which sits alongside the existing Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.ACRS will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need.
Donations coordinated by the Red Cross in Essex are still paused, while the existing items so generously given by Essex residents are distributed. Announcements will follow as soon as donations can be made again.
Any private landlords who have suitable accommodation for families are reminded to contact their local city, borough or district council.