Response of people of Sheffield in helping Afghan refugees is "overwhelming" say local councillors

Two Sheffield councillors have praised the overwhelming response of locals as the city prepares to accept refugees from Afghanistan.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 2:30 pm
Sheffield Cllr Alison Teal. Picture Scott Merrylees

It comes as figures show more Syrian refugees were housed in Sheffield than almost anywhere else in the UK, as the Government prepares to resettle another 20,000 people – this time from Afghanistan.

Figures from the House of Commons Library show 391 people had resettled in Sheffield through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme by the end of March.

That means the area has welcomed more refugees through the VPRS than almost any other local authority in the UK – 1.8% of all those resettled nationally.

Councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety. Picture: NSST-30-05-19-Wood-6

But according to the latest population estimates, Syrian refugees make up just seven in every 10,000 Sheffield residents (0.07% of the population).

The Government recently announced that the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme will welcome 20,000 people trying to escape persecution from the Taliban – with up to 5,000 in its first year.

They will be offered the chance to set up life in the UK permanently, with priority given to women and girls, and religious and other minorities most at risk of human rights abuses.

On Afghanistan Coun Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Parks and Leisure and Coun Paul Wood, Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management at Sheffield Council, said: “This is a terrible humanitarian crisis. As a council we are supporting the Home Office’s Relocation Scheme and have pledged to do as much as we possibly can.

“The situation in Afghanistan is moving incredibly quickly, there are many decisions still to be made by the Government and we are awaiting details on the wider national response, but we are reviewing the situation daily and our teams are working hard to prepare. We will continue to work with the Home Office, Migration Yorkshire and other councils in the region to consider what more we can do at this stage.

“We have also seen an overwhelming response from people in Sheffield who have been looking for ways that they can help refugees – as a city we will not simply stand by. There have been many individuals, community groups and organisations who have responded quickly.

“Sheffield City Council is working with two charities in particular, City of Sanctuary and ASSIST to help facilitate donations to support refugees. If you want to support, donations can be made at www.sheffield.cityofsanctuary.org/donate/ or https://www.assistsheffield.org.uk/donate-assist.”