Christian leaders from around the country have signed an open letter to local authorities asking them to provide at least ten homes for refugees from Afghanistan.
“If every Local Authority offered this many places, we could ensure that every Afghan family gets a safe place to live,” the letter reads.
Coalition of Christian charities, Afghan Welcome, organised the letter. The Director, Dr Krish Kandiah told Premier this would help Afghans settle in better and help them get on with their lives.
“It’s normally around 200 Afghans in a hotel, three quarters of them will be children, those children are not in school, they're not getting any medical attention. And people can't get jobs, they can't get on with their lives. One of the hotels I'm visiting is on a motorway. So they literally can't leave because they don't have transport. They're just stuck. So, in order to get on with healing from the trauma they were in, building a new life, getting a job, getting educated, they really need to move into housing.”
The majority of Afghan families who have recently arrived under the UK government's settlement scheme are being housed in 'Bridging Hotels' which are temporary and costly.
The letter also argues that if their pledge were to be met, it would provide “the opportunity for moving and matching; if people have family connections in a certain region they can be reunited.”
The letter continues: “We do not ask you to do this without also offering our support. Hundreds of churches, associations and charities across the nation have already been serving newly-arrived Afghans in the bridging hotels.
“We have started childcare, sports and skills-to-work programmes. We stand ready to offer those same services and more through our partner Welcome Churches, a network of hundreds of groups across the UK that have trained and experienced volunteers ready to go.”
More than 550 people have so far signed the letter calling for long term housing to enable these families to settle and start to rebuild their lives in the UK.
Dr Kandiah went on to explain there’s a biblical principle behind the initiative.
“The headline for me is probably Hebrews 13. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing many have entertained angels without knowing it.
“We are called by God to pass his love and mercy and grace on to people in need. These Afghan refugees are exactly that. And most of them are Muslim. So, what a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate what Christianity is about to a group of people that don't necessarily know Jesus very well.”
You can learn more about the initiative here.