As we reflect on the toughest of years, you have helped us make a huge contribution to improving lives and giving new opportunities to some of the most vulnerable people in our society: asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants. I’m personally very proud of what our team of staff, volunteers and supporters have been able to achieve. Our Annual Review 2020-2021 captures how we managed to stay open, and to extend and improve our services, right through the year.

However, rather than reflect on last year’s challenges and achievements, it feels more important to highlight our most urgent current challenge: that of supporting people fleeing threat, violence and persecution in Afghanistan.

As well as being traumatic for everyone in and connected to the country, the Taliban takeover, and the fear and uncertainty that go with it, have immediate implications within the UK and locally.

Asylum Welcome is working with others including Oxfordshire-wide Councils (County and City), MPs, local Afghan leaders, refugee community organisations and other organisations to support those having to flee. It is important to commend the immediate government commitment and the support of councils that have so far pledged to take 20,000 Afghan refugees and fund their resettlement. This is a good start, but much more has to be done, and quickly.

Asylum Welcome is already doing all that it can to help with immediate needs and longer-term resettlement. Soon after you receive this note, we will be supporting up to a hundred people in a local hotel during what could be an extended transition period.

We will incur additional costs and require extra resources as we provide more support to the Afghan community and to the new arrivals.

We have also posted information on our website outlining the range of ways in which people can help here. 

We will continue to update our website page and social media platforms as the situation develops.

Although the government has committed to support the resettlement of 20,000 Afghan refugees, the Home Secretary has made it clear that this doesn’t change the government’s wider asylum plans to go ahead with the Nationality and Borders Bill that is currently before Parliament. These will affect the status, reception and rights of a significant number of the 30-40,000 arrivals who seek sanctuary in the UK each year, including those Afghan refugees who will not be able to access the resettlement programmes and who make their own way to our borders or shores. While welcoming the new scheme, we need to remember that many of the people most at risk in the new Afghanistan simply won’t get to be part of an organised resettlement. We must help everyone who needs our support.

With thanks for your ongoing support,

PS: The Afghan community urgently needs our assistance and we must do all that we can to help. We greatly value your support. 

Photo: American Photo Archive / Alamy