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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham provides homes to help families fleeing from Afghanistan

Homes in Cheltenham will be offered to Afghan nationals, who have been working in Afghanistan on behalf of the UK government, as part of a countywide initiative. The borough council has committed to the provision of seven properties within Cheltenham to help those in need, as they move to the U.K. and settle in the town. Four of the seven properties that have been offered for immediate let across the county are based in Cheltenham.

The town's commitment to provide seven homes - which has been made together with partners including Cheltenham Borough Homes - will contribute towards the countywide target to support up to/around 35 households across Gloucestershire. It is anticipated the properties will be a mix of council owned and privately rented accommodation. The council would welcome any private landlords who wish to assist in this initiative to get in touch if they want to find out more about how they can help.

Further help will be offered to the families as they settle including specialist support from local provider, GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers). Their advice and assistance will cover employment, welfare benefits, housing, health, and education, with a view to helping families settle into their new communities.

Cheltenham adopted the title of Town of Sanctuary, following the Council motion of March 25 2019. This means that Cheltenham has been recognised as a town that offers a place of safety to people fleeing violence.

Councillor Mike Collins, cabinet member for housing said: ''As part of the national effort to support Afghan nationals, we are working hard to do all we can in Cheltenham to support people desperately fleeing Afghanistan, looking for a safe haven and a fresh start. In addition to providing seven homes in Cheltenham, we are also working with partners to make sure that Afghan families have the long-term, local support they need to truly integrate into their communities.''

In response to the recent changing situation in Afghanistan, the government have announced plans for a new bespoke resettlement route for Afghan refugees who are at risk due to the current crisis, with a pledge to house 5,000 Afghan nationals in its first year, with a view of re-settling 20,000 people in the long-term. This is in addition to the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Scheme and will be modelled on the Syrian vulnerable person's resettlement scheme.

Landlords wishing to help can contact Caroline Sutcliffe, housing strategy and enabling officer at caroline.sutcliffe@cheltenham.gov.uk, or by calling 01242 264171.

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