AFGHAN REFUGEES & YORK
As summer turns to autumn, the news is full of concerning stories about the future of refugees and the UK’s plans, especially the Government’s proposal of a shocking Nationality and Borders Bill (aka anti-refugee Bill). However, the one dominant headline recently has been the US and Western allies hasty and chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan at the end of August and the re-establishment of a Taliban regime. As we write, the Taliban-led government has announced that boys are allowed back to high school, but no sign if girls will return; journalists have been censored and beaten; nearly all women are excluded from work; and anyone associated with the former government, or critics of the Taliban, have either left or are in fear, The reality of Taliban 2.0, is that it is perhaps more media savvy but it Is no less repressive or brutal than before.
Homes not Hotels
This past month York CoS, has been working alongside other organisations – spearheaded by York Central MP Rachael Maskell – to welcome and set in place structures for Afghan families arriving here. The goodwill and generosity from York people has been overwhelming, with offers of donations, accommodation and help. However, without any refugees in York yet, and little information on the ground, we have been preparing in the dark. Worryingly, around 300 Afghan refugees have been placed in ‘bridging’ hotels in Scarborough. From our experience, this short-term Home Office fix will turn into a longer-term nightmare. People need homes not hotels. As weeks stretch into months, refugees in hotels are left in limbo unable to build a new life and breath.
But there is some good news. A call for private landlords to offer accommodation in York for at least four Afghan families initially had a slow uptake. MP Rachael Maskell, however, has succeeded in finding homes. Thanks to her lobbying, the developer North Star has offered six homes for refugees in York. This is an unprecedented offer. By working together — national and local politicians, NGOs, faith groups and businesses – we are sending out a clear message that York is committed, both as a City of Sanctuary and as a community, to providing a support network and welcoming home for all refugees.
ESOL TUTORS NEEDED
We are looking to recruit a small team of ESOL tutors to hold weekly classes with a newly arrived Syrian refugee family (parents with three young adult sons). The family is here as part of the community sponsorship scheme and will need two to three hours per week over a year-long period. This is a voluntary role but expenses will be covered. The closing date is 25 September. For more details, please email [email protected]
DONATIONS and thanks to the York Mosque
On a final note, we would like to thank the York Mosque for its generous donation collecting, sorting and distribution for the refugees. The Mosque was flooded with donations – too many in fact – and with a little help from some of our York CoS volunteers alongside the people of the Mosque, they sorted and packed three car-loads which went to refugees in Wakefield and beyond.
On the subject of donations, we are asking people to hold on to clothes, household goods etc until we know what is needed. Financial help is very welcome, however, as we can buy new items for the Afghan families when they arrive. Although good quality second-hand is always welcome, to have something new is a nice feeling for new arrivals, as we are sure you will agree! Please visit our website for more details for making a donation. Also keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter to see when we do make a call for specific donations.