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The Vale steps up to help families who supported the UK’s military operations in Afghanistan

An innovative new arrangement will support the welfare of families from Afghanistan who have contributed to the UK’s military operations in their country.

Families who had put themselves at risk by working and fighting for the UK, were forced to flee their home country when the Taliban regained control. Since then, many of them have spent more time than is suitable in hotel accommodation provided by the Home Office.

Once finalised, the new arrangement – which is part of a UK-wide scheme – will mean that currently unused Ministry of Defence housing can be used as temporary accommodation. The Vale of White Horse District Council will lease and manage the properties and be responsible for maintenance and repairs – effectively acting as landlords for our Afghan guests.

This will provide a suitable and stable home for around 18 months to 36 months, with the council using that time to help the families find and move into privately rented homes. During this time, the council will be working with county-wide partners to provide all the support the families need to live independently and settle into life in the Vale, including help with language, education and employment – although many are already working. Government grants are funding the accommodation and our support for families from Afghanistan.

The first families will be moving into unoccupied Ministry of Defence houses in Watchfield and Shrivenham soon.

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Community Health and Wellbeing at White Horse District Council said: “We have a duty to help those who have put themselves in harm’s way by helping our country’s military operations in Afghanistan, and so we’re pleased to work closely with the Ministry of Defence to provide the care and support our guests’ needs.

“By using government funding to provide important humanitarian support to our Afghan friends, we’re also able to put the foundations in place at the council to manage the properties which will help us begin the process of providing much-needed social housing and support for our Vale residents in the future.”

Vale of White Horse District Council works alongside partner authorities, health organisations, residents, community groups and voluntary sector organisations in Oxfordshire to help provide safe shelter and support to refugees and asylum seekers from countries like Afghanistan and Ukraine, and the Hong Kong British National visa scheme.