Progress being made in securing suitable, sustainable homes for Afghan refugee families in Harlow

News / Mon 4th Oct 2021 at 03:14pm

COUNCILS across Essex are making progress in securing homes for Afghan refugee families now resident in the county, a new Afghan Refugee Housing Task Force has heard.

The Task Force was set up last month to ensure that suitable, sustainable housing is found for Afghan refugees across the county which may include those who are currently in Home Office ‘bridging’ accommodation and to begin preparing the Essex, Southend and Thurrock response to  the Government Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.

At its first meeting the Task Force, Chaired by Essex County Council Leader Kevin Bentley, heard how bringing forward the right sort of housing options was a challenge given the nature of housing in Essex and the size of Afghan families, meaning that larger homes are required from across the housing sector which are in short supply.

However, the task force also heard that 18 homes had so far been identified across the Essex County Council area, and a further 5 in Thurrock. One suitable property has been identified in Southend-on-Sea. This is currently being matched to a family, with more homes being looked at.

With an announcements expected from the Home Office imminently on additional support to enable local housing authorities to secure homes, Cllr Bentley was optimistic that the ‘Team Essex’ approach, which also links with government departments including the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions would pay off.

He said: “Councils in Essex are committed to making sure we provide all the help and support we can to the Afghan families who risked so much to help British forces and other vulnerable Afghans who had to flee their home country.

“Our mission is to secure the right sort of housing to ensure they get the best possible start to life in the UK.

“Some private landlords have already contacted the councils who lead on the property identification across Essex, and prior to the mass evacuation from Afghanistan the ‘Team Essex’ approach enabled some families to move into their new homes, so we now need to build on that start, and that is what the Task Force will help us do.”

If you wish to consider making an offer of a property please contact your local council responsible for housing or alternatively access the Government Afghan Housing Portal: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-housing-portal-offers-of-support

Epping Forest District Council is one of many councils supporting the County partnership.

EFDC’s Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Holly Whitbread, said: “Everyone is trying to do their bit. While other areas are providing temporary hotel accommodation, we are one of a number of councils to find permanent resettlement properties under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy for families that worked with British forces in Afghanistan. We have two properties on offer to the Home Office for suitable families and we will continue to see how we can help in other ways.”   

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “The local community response to support vulnerable Afghan families has been astonishing, as have the efforts of council officers, the local business community and the Park Inn hotel who have been housing so many families in the bridging accommodation.“Our efforts are also focused on securing the right types of housing for those who will make Southend-on-Sea their home, and I delighted that we are represented on this task force. I would urge local private landlords who may be able to help to get in touch with our housing team.”

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19 Comments for Progress being made in securing suitable, sustainable homes for Afghan refugee families in Harlow:

2021-10-05 04:46:27

Before anyone starts complaining about “Harlow’s homeless” and so on, be mindful - these properties are not funded by “your taxes” but rather those willing to donate a property if they happen to have access to a spare house or something alike. So don’t even start crying that “but they said they wouldn’t help and now they’re ignoring Harlow people first...” sorry, but not sorry. These people deserve a chance - their country was ripped to shreds by a war that was not required or useful to anyone, we were one of those forces involved in the destruction that lay waste to their land - it’s only fair and right that we help.

2021-10-05 05:10:49

I cannot agree with your comments which you are entitled to but I also have my opinion which the complete opposite to yours.

2021-10-05 06:04:23

My comment isn’t an opinion. It’s factual. We went there, destroyed their land and caused billions of pounds of damage, years of throwback - which will take decades to reverse, allowed a failed state to take over and then you think we have zero responsibility? Shocking.

2021-10-05 08:11:45

I never went there , you may have , not my problem. I want Harlow homes for locals and to stop separating families..

Robert Jeakins
2021-10-05 08:34:04

Jean they should have stsy and fight fir their country just we did in the secd ww 2 we did not run , as a ex force s put our own in the house. S frist we have do many EX FORCE ON THE STREETS ,WHO ARR HOME LESS THEY PUT THE OWN LIVE ON THE LINE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO BE SAFE OKJEAN

2021-10-05 08:49:21

Jean, I do not think for one moment that all the property owners who have a spare house will donate it unless something is in it for them, And i include letting agencies in this, It will be funded via the state paying the owners so it will be our taxes that are used.

2021-10-05 10:29:29

@Robert - Be safe from what? The goat farmers in Afghanistan? The brits weren’t protecting... they were the invaders. They were not the good guys in this war. They backed a powerful ally who lied to start a war. If someone served, that’s their choice. They chose that path. Not me. Just because someone fights for their country does not automatically mean they deserve my recognition or respect. War is needless, it’s not required. And this war “on terror” was nothing but a big American and British cash grab to bolster the Defense budgets. It was a phony war... nothing more. Needless death and waste on all sides. The only success we had with Afghanistan is creating a new enemy. Nothing new. Totally British. @ Jarrett - what’s wrong with helping others? I let my guest house be used, without any requirement for money or gain.

2021-10-05 11:02:42

So it was Bliars doing.

2021-10-05 12:13:58

Blair and Bush. But, ultimately - fact is, the people of this nation have it good - and they’re so unaware of how good they truly have it that they think they’re owed something. It’s mind boggling. Nobody is separating families or stopping people working or getting a better job. These are all self-fulfilling falsehoods. If you want something - go and get it. If not, sit about and complain about others who do.

2021-10-05 16:08:21

We have it so good here, we have more food banks, thousands who work hard but don't earn enough to buy a home, pensioners who must decide to heat their homes or eat. Rising gas and electricity and next Yr a rise in council tax.

2021-10-06 03:32:05

Alison - we have it good. Absolutely. Every problem there you listed are first world issues. Where these people are coming from - the refugees - worry about feeding their kids, ensuring they’re not shot on their way to the market, making sure the women locally are not raped, murdered and beheaded. They worry if they’re going to make it through to the next day alive. They worry if they’re on some sort of list because maybe they spoke to an American soldier or British soldier once. But don’t worry, your council tax going up a little bit is obviously a bigger issue. I completely understand...

2021-10-06 06:01:36

Alison - after my previous comment was removed for whatever reason. I’ll reiterate in a perhaps more - superficially friendly manner, since no reason was given. In England, we do have it good - we have everything while having to give up nothing. There are plenty of ways to survive and earn money. Whereas in Afghanistan these people have lost it all. Their homes, education systems, their government has gone. While we worry here about trivial things such as taxes and so on - they worry if they’ll make it alive through the day. And no, I’m no exaggerating. The risks for them in Afghanistan are huge. Whether it’s the Taliban - the land mines, the smaller pocket groups of ISIS or even starvation and hunger - they’ve lost it all. Make no mistake, your life here - while you are concerned about what you listed - is still a choice many Afghans would rather make than live in their shoes. It’s all about perspective. And having learned that perspective by speaking to over 300 Afghan refugees - I can safely say, their choice to run for the hills (England) was definitely a justified one.

2021-10-06 07:18:08

Jean , I think you have it good. My family have had to move 100 miles away to be housed. You can sit on your perch chirping garbage but we are not buying it. Progress means looking after our own. This headline and the opening letter are the falsehoods here. I do not give a fig for the world and its brother. You are part of problem Jean.

2021-10-06 07:33:54

This paper has an agenda.

2021-10-06 08:14:50

I have it good? Do you know where I come from and what I went through to get to this country? Do you know the terrible things I’ve seen? Experienced? Witnessed? Having to move thousands of miles for safety? Did you experience that? I did. Don’t tell me I have it good when you don’t know a single thing about me or my history. Being a refugee myself I am appreciative of all that is here to offer. I worked from the day I touched down, nobody handed me a thing. Don’t you dare suggest I am part of the problem when all I see is people who think they’re owed something when they’re really not.

2021-10-06 10:13:05

So you don't have it good but everyone else does. Nobody knows nothing about anyone , this is why some find your comments a bit rich.

Barbara Jarvis
2021-10-06 12:33:30

Why, oh why are we housing Afghans??? They have not paid into the system. They have not worked or paid their taxes, so why should we house them?? How do you know that they're not terrorists or bringing virus's into the country?? I'm sorry, but british homes for British people. If your white & British, you don't get anything from this council or government. We should all change our names & get a Eastern European passport, then we might get somewhere.

2021-10-06 17:31:54

Ray, while I understand your concern for locals. I do, I also express concern for those of us who have been through hell and back. And I do have it good. Absolutely. I don't fear carbomb attacks in my village any more. I don't fear militia coming in and taking people that I won't ever see again. I don't have to worry about a stray bullet from a sniper clipping me... So, yeah, I am lucky to be alive - and I am hugely thankful and grateful to the UK for providing this kind of freedom to me. As for Barbara, did you not read the reason why these Afghan refugees are coming to the UK? Do you know that "refugee" does not mean "terrorist"? These people lost everything. They lost their homes, livelihoods, freedoms and in some cases - their entire life. They are not terrorists, they are people who deserve the same respect & protections as you - especially as a vast portion of them coming here - HELPED the UK & US forces out in the warzones... So very racist of you to assume people like me are all terrorists. What do YOU as an individual lose by helping others like myself? What did you personally give up, or lose? Because I've not taken from you anything, nor has my family.

2022-10-11 16:47:40

. Essex will become a dumping ground whereas other counties get away with not helping

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