We all witnessed the horrific scenes in Afghanistan in 2021, seeing people fleeing for their lives, desperate parents handing babies to American soldiers, crowded planes, and the tragic bomb attacks on the crowds desperately queuing to get on the last flights out of Kabul Airport.
The UK government evacuated roughly 7,000 people from Afghanistan, though sadly many more were left behind, to face violent punishment and the roll-back of civil rights under the barbaric Taliban, especially for women and girls.
For those refugees that did escape, they have lost everything. Their lives, their homes, their possessions, their loved ones.
Afghanistan Resettlement Programme
We have supported refugees and asylum seekers in Berkshire for over 27 years, and for five years we have supported families escaping Syria in partnership with Reading, Windsor & Maidenhead, Wokingham, and West Berkshire Borough Councils.
Now we are providing the same long-term support to twelve Afghan families who are being permanently settled in Berkshire, and we expect another 20 families in the coming weeks.
We’re setting up their homes, helping them register with schools and doctors, helping them learn about their new communities, and supporting them to find work. We’re providing Mental Health support, social activities, helping them learn English and to come to terms with rebuilding their lives in the UK.
Many of the refugees evacuated from Afghanistan are still being kept in hotels, with whole families sharing single rooms. Though this is supposed to be a temporary situation, many have remained living in the hotels for over 18 months.
We’re currently supporting around 400 men, women and children in this situation.
Conditions in these hotels is pretty awful. Despite having lost everything and having experienced unbelievable trauma, people in the hotels are left isolated and abandoned with no support. They have nothing to do to pass the time or keep busy, and many are suffering from depression and PTSD. The food and living conditions are awful. They have little access to doctors and basics like winter clothing.
As well as Afghan refugees, there are many more hotels locally housing people who have fled violence from other parts of the world, all with identically dire conditions.
We’re doing as much as we can to help the many refugees in the hotels, but it’s not enough.
We’re providing care packages of basics like toiletries and underwear. We’re providing laptops so people can contact loved ones back home.
We’re running activities like Creative Writing groups to help people pass the time and to help their mental wellbeing. We’re providing one-to-one Befriending and English sessions to give social contact and help them improve their English.
We’re also continuing to run our usual services, like our Drop Ins that provide a safe space to socialise and our Advice Service where we provide legal advice and practical support for anyone in need.
Before the Afghanistan Crisis, our services were strained. For example our Advice Service saw a 460% increase in demand as a result of COVID. Now with the addition of so many refugees needing our support, we’re more stretched than ever.
We need your help to continue providing the vital support that is so needed by the many families and individuals from Afghanistan, and from the many other conflicts ongoing right now, like in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq and Eritrea.
How You Can Help
We need your financial support. Your donation can help us recruit more support workers, hire spaces for more Drop Ins, recruit a Mental Health practitioner to provide proper Mental Health support, and to recruit and manage more Befriending and English volunteers.
Fundraise For Us
We would love for you to fundraise for us, be it running a race, holding a bake sale, or selling unwanted clothes or furniture online. Any funds donated will help us provide more Caseworkers, more Drop Ins, hire a Mental Health practitioner and recruit more volunteers. If you would like to fundraise for us, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate Laptops or Tablets
Internet access is a vital for refugees to communicate with family and friends that they’ve left behind or are elsewhere. If you can donate a brand new, internet ready laptop or tablet please email email@example.com
Many people want to volunteer as translators. If you’re able to help with this, please let us know your contact details and what languages you are proficient in.
We will put you on our database and will call you as soon as we are able. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Befrienders / English Teachers
We will need volunteers to help provide Befriending and basic English practice for the families arriving. If you would like to volunteer as a befriender or helping teach English, please let us know your contact details and we’ll add you to our database.
Please email: email@example.com
Some people have offered houses and flats to Afghan refugees. This is a fantastic offer. RRSG will coordinate with the local authorities and pass on your details. Please email details about your property to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Items We Cannot Accept
Please do not donate clothes, furniture or toys
Thank you for your generosity, but we have been inundated with donations of clothes and food, and we do not have the storage capacity to accept any more.
We will put the call out on social media if/when we need clothes again. Thank you.
Sign up to our Supporter Newsletter to hear all the different ways you can help refugees in Berkshire:
Here is the original Afghanistan Appeal video, by Nick Harborne, our CEO.