The Government is working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Their aim is to identify vulnerable Syrians and other nationalities that they deem in need of resettlement and whose needs can only be met in countries like the UK.
Local authorities across the country have been asked if they would be able to participate in the scheme to bring those people from the camps to begin new and safe lives in the UK.
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has been working with all of the district and borough councils, the Clinical Commissioning Groups in West Sussex, Sussex Police, other services and voluntary groups across the county. Together, we have resettled 48 families or approximately 200 people under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme UK (VPRS). Under the new UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), West Sussex has resettled two families since April and will commit to resettling more families in 2021/22.
The refugees arriving under UKRS are funded by the Government, which is providing funding via the International Development Fund. This will help to cover costs for providing caseworkers, securing housing, social care, health, and support to integrate. Each case will be different, as each family will have different needs, different skills and different backgrounds.
From the outset, refugees are encouraged on a pathway to independence by learning English, finding employment and sustaining activities of daily living.
We have a core offer of family support in place that helps to build family resilience and independence. The intensive support, which is available to each family for the first three months, will have a keyworker allocated from the Early Help Service. The keyworker will support the family to access key services such as GPs, schools and applications to Universal Credit. Following the three-month intensive support, the support will transition from keyworkers to volunteers. All refugees receive support for five years.
WSCC, in conjunction with our district and borough partners, have been actively engaged with the pre-existing Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to current and former locally employed staff who worked alongside British forces in Afghanistan.
Families have already been resettled in West Sussex under the ARAP scheme, with more due to arrive shortly. We will continue to work closely with all our partners to support those families already within the county during this difficult time and are ready to respond to any widening in scope for the existing refugee resettlement programme as this rapidly evolving situation unfolds.
2 Afghan Relocation Scheme in West Sussex
Recent events in Afghanistan have left many women, children and men in the country feeling vulnerable and fearing for their lives.
Many Afghan nationals have managed to leave the country, with some now seeking to rebuild their lives in the UK.
West Sussex County Council is committed to keeping people safe from vulnerable situations, which is why we’re working hard, together with our partners, to welcome people arriving here from Afghanistan who are in urgent need of protection.
We’re doing this through the Government’s Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy and ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ and hope everyone across West Sussex will join us in welcoming and supporting those looking to settle here and rebuild their lives safely.
As a council, we are working closely with our district and borough partners to coordinate offers of housing support across the county.
Our priority is to find self-contained, long-term accommodation for Afghan people and families looking to rebuild their lives in West Sussex.
If you have or know of anyone who has properties available for rent for at least 12 months, please get in touch by emailing AfghanistanSupport@westsussex.gov.uk.
For people wanting to support in other ways, there are a number of volunteer organisations and groups that we work with (some of which are listed below) who you can contact about volunteering, befriending opportunities or donating clothes and toys for the Afghan nationals in your area:
- Worthing 4 Refugees - Creating a culture of safety, integration and justice for refugees and displaced people in the Adur and Worthing area.
- Horsham Refugee Support Group - A small charity run entirely by volunteers who work with refugees or asylum seekers in the Horsham district, linking in with West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council.
- Refugees Welcome Crawley - A small, registered charity based in Crawley offering welcome and support to refugees, asylum seekers or other migrants who need some extra help to cope with life in a new country.
- Sanctuary in Chichester - A registered charity supported by volunteers who work with refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the Chichester area.
- Mid Sussex Voluntary Action - An independent charity working across Mid Sussex to bring together and help local voluntary organisations and community groups.
For individuals wishing to donate money, you may want to consider donating to one of the reputable charities currently running Afghan appeals, such as the British Red Cross. We will not be accepting any donations through the council.
3 How you can help
We are working to find ways in which people can help the refugees integrate into life here in West Sussex and the UK by ensuring they do not feel alone and isolated. The key areas of help are in housing supply, English language learning and volunteer support.
Support from the voluntary and community sector adds invaluable skills and resource to the scheme. It also increases the chances of families resettling quickly, while ensuring the scheme is more sustainable in the long run.
The volunteer groups have supported the scheme in different ways including:
- property preparation, such as painting and decorating
- family support - working with keyworkers to support families, orientating them to life in West Sussex
- English language one-to-one sessions.
The groups have also helped fund and host several activities to enable the families to resettle and integrate into West Sussex life.
Further information is available on GOV.UK about how you can help. This could be by donating, providing housing or volunteering.
4 Information for prospective landlords
What we need
- To find a further eight houses before the end of March 2022.
- A collective approach to working with private landlords to find feasible solutions for housing supply.
- Self-contained Home Office-compliant accommodation with easy access to local services and amenities. Houses need to be safe, to have passed all landlord checks in compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act, and be self-contained and in good condition.
- Properties that are in neighbourhoods free of crime and community tensions.
- Assured refundable deposit - no agency fees, arrangement of tenancy agreement and other agreements as necessary.
- Rent that falls within the local housing allowance bands.
- Cover for void costs in advance of arrival of tenants (usually 6-8 weeks after handover of keys).
- Provision for redecorating the property to an acceptable standard and ensuring tenants will carry out essential maintenance as part of our duty of care obligations to the tenant.
- A guaranteed long-term, secured tenancy, as we are looking for properties that can ideally be let for five years. This will allow the refugees time to settle and integrate within the community. This allows them to create a safe space through the stability provided in having a fixed address.
Refugees who arrive under the Government scheme will arrive with refugee status, which allows them to work and have full entitlement to state benefits. They will have access to Universal Credit (UC).
Within the first few weeks, refugees will be registered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Those in receipt of benefits will be expected to claim UC to pay for their housing costs.
The housing cost element of UC can be paid directly to the tenant and they will be responsible for paying the landlord or, in agreed cases, paid directly to the landlord. If there are any concerns over payments, the landlord will be given contact details for the Refugee Resettlement Team at West Sussex County Council (WSCC) who will be able to assist and investigate any problems.
Tenants will also be responsible for paying utility bills and any problems should be reported to the scheme.
Your property will be looked after and we will get the property ready for the new tenant's, including:
- basic home maintenance
If you are interested in letting your property or would like more information, please contact Giovanni Lark at: email@example.com
5 Further information
As of the end of February 2021, 48 families have arrived in West Sussex:
|District||Number of families|
|Adur and Worthing||8|
We expect a further eight families to be resettled across the county by the end of March 2022.
Each district and borough council accommodates families as and when appropriate housing becomes available. We will also ensure that services including schools and GPs are not inundated with new pupils or patients because of those refugees coming to the county.
In partnership with district and borough councils, we are looking at all possible options for housing refugees.
Council and Housing Association properties will only be made available if the refugees meet the ‘eligibility and qualification’ criteria for Housing Allocation schemes. These are published by each of the local district and borough councils. We are also seeking support from private landlords.
Please visit the Red Cross website for further information about refugees.
6 Get in touch
If you want to find out about local volunteering opportunities in West Sussex to support refugees, please contact Canan Mortimer in the Refugee Resettlement team.
For information about offering to house refugees, please contact the Refugee Resettlement Team Manager, Tim Tuckett.