Calshot trip for Hampshire's Afghanistan refugees who are 'settling in well'
REFUGEES who fled Afghanistan are integrating well into Hampshire communities, according to politicians and charity bosses.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, the county council said roughly 50 families have been placed under Hampshire’s care, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Of these, almost a dozen are in long-term accommodation, with the rest currently in hotels while they wait for housing – which could put them anywhere in the country.
Speaking at a full county council meeting, Cllr Liz Fairhurst, cabinet member for adult services and public health, gave an update.
She said: "In temporary accommodation we have around 154 individuals, some 90 of which are children under the age of five.
"Nine more families are due to move into accommodation in the next couple of weeks, and a further 10 properties have been offered to the Home Office for families.
"During half-term we took a lot of the Afghan children down to Calshot for the day. For many it was the first time they had seen the sea, and it was a lovely day for all of them."
Local authorities, charities and community organisations report that good progress is being made.
Community First is one of the charities involved, and has been leading the charge on coordinating donations.
Chief executive Tim Houghton said: "The youngest refugee I’ve met so far was just three months old – this is a really difficult time for all these families. They have left good jobs, their livelihoods and even other family members to escape Afghanistan.
"It’s been two and a half months and we’re now seeing many of them start to access the services they’re entitled to via the Department for Work and Pensions. But these people are highly skilled and want to do more for the country that has welcomed them in.
"From what we’ve seen of those moving into long-term housing, communities have been incredibly welcoming to families.
"It’s the simple things that make a big difference, like helping them with public transport or getting a bank account set up."
Mr Houghton added that donations from members of the public have been "incredibly generous" and has asked for any future donations to come in the form of supermarket vouchers for the families.
Other organisations involved include Two Saints and the British Red Cross.