‘We need more funding for refugee housing,’ Camden leader tells government

Camden Council staff welcoming refugees. Photograph: Camden Council

More support is needed to help provide funding for homes for refugees in Camden, according to the council leader.

Speaking after the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Georgia Gould said: “We are determined to be a borough that supports people who need to find a home.”

She outlined some of the help the council and residents have provided to refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine but said they need more help.

Families opened up their homes through a government sponsorship scheme and the council is supporting host families with a £200 a month top-up of the Homes for Ukraine payment.

Gould said the council is lobbying the government “really hard” for funding to buy back former council homes.

Camden is buying back 34 homes so people can settle in the borough and has taken some community investment homes off the open market to give to refugees.

Cllr Gould said the council is funding the first month’s rent for refugees from the Ukraine. It has provided 20 homes for families who fled Afghanistan after the resurgence of the Taliban there.

This means 17 households have now moved into a new and secure home for 36 adults and 63 children.

However, Gould said 44 families have been staying in bridging hotels for more than a year and are facing the “trauma of living in limbo” but are settling into schools and work and putting down roots in Camden.

In 2016 the council provided homes for 23 families from Syria and it is working with the Refugee and Migrant Forum Essex and London to help them apply for UK citizenship.

“Refugees will always be welcome here and we will stand together and show they are part of our community,” said Gould.

She updated colleagues after the council joined the UK-wide Borough Sanctuary Network in a move that won cross-party support.

It follows a debate last month when refugees and councillors shared stories about fleeing their homes under difficult circumstances.

Camden is working to become a Borough of Sanctuary and hopes to be accredited later this year. This sees Camden pledge to ensure it is a place for everyone and recognise “that the UK is enriched by new arrivals” and does not tolerate hate crime, discrimination or harassment.

It includes work on employment, language training and providing translation, help with transport to  interviews and laptops to prevent digital exclusion and help with childcare.

Cllr Gould said the support to help people fleeing their homes with “everything they need to take their first steps towards training and employment”.

Council staff have been on hand to welcome Ukrainians as they arrive in the UK at King’s Cross and tell them about the support available.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.