Our commitment

Refugees from Afghanistan

Camden stands ready to welcome refugees, and always has. We have a long and proud history of welcoming people who are displaced from all around the world as the flee conflict, disaster, and persecution.

Refugees who have settled in Camden have become valued members of our community and have helped to make Camden the vibrant, creative, and diverse place that it is today.

We are here to support people when they are at their most desperate, providing them with safety, shelter, and the opportunity to rebuild their lives and find happiness. 

We share an ambition with our community to provide the help that Afghan refugees deserve. Support needs to be ongoing and all-encompassing in order to ensure refugees settle and have what they need to thrive.

We will need to work closely with the government, our partners, and local community organisations to deliver this. However, a decade of austerity has reduced the capacity of local councils to do everything that is being asked of us by government.

We need funds from government that match the scale of the challenge. 

In the last decade Camden has stepped up to support those in need:

  • We welcomed 22 Syrian families – comprising 82 people – in 2016, initially the largest London response to the crisis in Syria.
  • We welcomed 10 young people from camps in Calais into our care between October and December 2016. 
  • This is in addition to supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children that come into our care every year. We are currently supporting 52 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Camden.

Councils, along with their partners have the connections, the structures and the services needed to save lives, provide emergency support and then to provide a base from which to grow and thrive.

But this is what we do for anyone who has hit hard times - we presently have 6500 people on our housing waiting lists, all of whom have needs.  

In Camden we believe that everyone should have a safe place to call home and we are urging government to manage the long term secure and safe resettlement of families as quickly as possible. 

Statement from Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council

It is devastating to see the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. We are concerned for the safety of all Afghan citizens and are particularly concerned about the safety and rights of women and girls. The Government must act quickly to ensure the safe and legal passage for those fleeing the Taliban and we stand ready in Camden to welcome refugees seeking safety.

Camden has a long and proud history of helping refugees, often stepping in where government has failed to take action. We will welcome families into our borough and give them the support and help they need to rebuild their lives.

We will work with all of our partners and local community organisations to offer the best help we can to families who find themselves in this desperate situation. This is not a political issue; it is a humanitarian one that must have support from all political parties. But if government is serious about putting local government at the centre of this response, then we urge Ministers to recognise the desperate situation we find ourselves in. We need more money to build new homes, and we need it fast.

The government have reduced our funding by half since 2010. And we’ve been stopped from raising £30m through rent increases because of the rent cap. Our funding needs to be increased and the rent cap lifted.

Camden’s Housing, Health care and Education support packages for refugees are detailed on our site and consists of: 

  • Housing: Housing to cover both the initial emergency accommodation and longer-term housing for refugees.
  • Food support: No-one arriving in Camden will go hungry.
  • Health care: Refugees will receive the physical healthcare and mental health support they need.
  • Education: We will work to ensure all refugee children are able to learn and develop while they are in Camden, and make sure there is high quality school or early years place for all Afghan children who settle here.

Housing

In their first few weeks in Camden, refugees from Afghanistan are being supported in hotels managed by Central Government.

The first of these hotels enable refugees to initially complete their 10 day isolation quarantine safely and the second ‘bridging’ hotel provide a base while their longer-term housing needs are arranged.

Camden is working with its voluntary and community partners to support refugees while they are in these hotels.

On arrival at the hotel, refugees receive information packs covering health, care and education, tailored to the immediate area in which the hotel is located.

The packs provide information about a range of near-by services providing additional wrap-around support to ensure refugees have access to the items and services they need.  

Other support Camden and its partners are providing to refugees in hotels includes: 

  • Practical support: We are working with community groups and foodbanks including QCCA, Castlehaven, Kentish Town Community Centre, Cooperation Kentish Town and Salvation Army to support refugees arriving at hotels with food and sanitary products.
  • Health care: North Central London CCG have commissioned AT Medics to provide immediate onsite healthcare support for refugees living at the bridging hotels. The service includes meeting acute healthcare and prescription in addition to an antenatal clinic, COVID vaccination clinics and a mental health offering. 
  • Education: Schools who receive a significant demand for school places from newly arrived families will get specific support from our family early help team. We are already providing education for children and young people in the Camden hotels and will identify school places for school children coming from Afghanistan.

Longer term housing need

Camden Council is offering support to families assisted under the Government Resettlement-ARAP- scheme including accommodation, financial support, needs assessment and support with resettlement and integration.  

We have identified five social housing properties in Camden to house Afghan refugees and are working on securing more.

However, we presently have 6500 people on our housing waiting lists, all of whom have needs.

We need Government funding to secure homes in the private rented sector for the vast majority of refugees in Camden.

Help and support

Camden has always been a place ready to welcome refugees – we are here to support people when they are at their most in need, provide them with safety, shelter and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. 

We have collated a list below of refugee support organisations including education, health and mental health support, food and essential item support, citizen advice and key charities for refugees or key stakeholders to contact.

The Refugee Council 

The Refugee Council’s Infoline connects refugees and people seeking asylum with organisations that can help. To contact the Infoline, please call Freephone number 0808 196 7272. The Infoline is a live national Freephone line open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 9.30am and 12.30pm. Interpreters can be arranged for those who don’t speak English. 

British Red Cross

Support with basic essentials such as bedding and clothing and support and befriending to help settle into the UK, know your local area and register with local services. They can also support with family tracing and run an international reunification programme. For the London office, email LondonRU@redcross.org.uk or call 0207 704 5670

For advice and information on the asylum process

Refugee Legal Centre provide legal advice and representation to those seeking asylum in the UK 

Migrant Help are the primary source of advice for people requiring help with their asylum claim, asylum support and Refugee Resettlement programme. Call 0808 8010 503

Survivors of torture and/or trafficking

Helen Bamber provides all-encompassing care for those who have suffered torture, or trafficking, including sexual assault. Including legal protection, medical advice, therapy, housing and welfare, community and integration and counter trafficking.  

For Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children 

The Refugee Council runs a ‘Children’s Advice Project’ and has received a very high number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children from Afghanistan over the last 30 years. The team provide one to one support and social activities for this very vulnerable group for children from all over London and beyond.  

Information for refugees in Dari and other local languages

  • Save the Children Afghanistan have provided a family activities pack in Dari and Pashto with lots of ideas for games to play whilst quarantining 
  • UNICEF Afghanistan- Further activities and booklets in Dari and other local languages- awaitingaccess to these documents 
  • IOM A children’s welcome to the UK pack in English. This includes info about weather, food, money, regions and customs in the UK- being edited currently

Contact Jessica Farrand, jesssica.farrand@camden.gov.uk, for copies.

Other contacts

Refugee Action 

Their London Asylum Crisis Project provides housing and financial advice and they also run a number of resettlement support groups, which may well be updated as Afghan families are offered permanent resettlement places.

Get involved

Information for community, voluntary and faith members

We know many of our faith, voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and members of the public want to know what they can do to support refugees from Afghanistan arriving in London. 

At the moment, most newly arrived Afghan Nationals are in hotels managed by central Government – either in quarantine or in hotels where their housing and wider support needs are being assessed. 

We are working to identify the needs of residents, and thanks to the generosity of our VCS partners faith communities and members of the public, we have been able to provide deliveries of clothes, toys and nappies, as well as other essentials including electrical and religious items. 

This is a fast- moving situation and ways in which people can support and help are likely to change over the coming weeks and months.

We’ve listed below the ways in which support is best targeted at the moment and will update this as we get further information. 

Donations of new items

We currently have sufficient donations of food and clothes, but we need donations of new underwear and toiletries. 

Underwear- new items only 

  • New packets of men’s underwear (all sizes)
  • Women’s underwear (all sizes) 
  • Children’s underwear (all sizes)
  • Unisex socks (all adult sizes)
  • Children’s unisex socks (all sizes) 

Toiletries- new items only 

  • Shampoo
  • Adult Toothbrush
  • Child Toothbrush
  • Adult Toothpaste
  • Child toothpaste
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Women’s deodorant
  • Men’s deodorant
  • Sponge
  • Shaving gel
  • Soap 
  • Shower gel
  • Sanitary towels
  • Hair oil/gel

Donation centre and hub locations

more details coming soon 

We are working with partners to establish donation hubs across the borough. We will provide updates on locations and opening hours as soon as these are confirmed. 
Donation centres will be accepting donations of new underwear and toiletries. At the moment we do not need any donations of clothes. 

Wish list

We have set-up a wish list so we can update items that are needed in real time. Items listed above such as toiletries and underwear can be purchased via our wish list and will be delivered to Afghan refugees in hotels. If you are able to contribute

Visit the Wish List

Volunteers

We may need to mobilise volunteers at short notice to provide assistance with sorting and distributing donations.

Organisations 

If you are an organisation that has a volunteer network that you can mobilise, we would love to hear from you. 

Organisations should complete our online form.

Individuals

If you are an individual who is interested in volunteering, please register via Time to Spare. We are creating a database of individuals that we can contact as we have a clearer idea of the volunteer tasks that will be needed. 

Donate your voice- volunteer translators and interpreters 

We need translators and interpreters and people who speak Afghan languages- Dari (Farsi) and Pashto- to support us with written translations and face to face interpreting. If you are able to provide support, please send your name and contact details to CommunityResponse@Camden.gov.uk. Please indicate whether you have a current DBS check.  

Establishing a welcome space / centre  

As people move out of quarantine hotels and into temporary accommodation, they will be able to access services and support across the borough. You could consider organising a ‘welcome to Camden’ space at set times that can be promoted to hotel guests.

Ideas of activities/ services include stay-and-play/child friendly spaces, advice clinics, language support and internet access. Please contact CommunityResponse@Camden.gov.uk with the name and location of your organisation, contact name and details and what you are thinking about setting up. 

Hopscotch fundraising appeal

Hopscotch Women’s Centre is fundraising urgently for supplies and permanent help to Afghan refugees in Camden.

Thanks to people’s generosity over £2,500 has been raised so far. Hopscotch Women’s Centre has been able to provide Afghan refugees with essential and religious items including over 100 Korans, more than 55 headscarves and over 30 foldable prayer mats.

Funds are being used to buy emergency items now but the ultimate goal is for Hopscotch to fundraise for an essential Afghan Family Engagement Lead, to provide vital support and guidance for the wellbeing of those who have fled danger. If you are able to contribute to this appeal, please donate to the Hopscotch Women’s Centre Fund

Little Village Crisis Fund for Afghan Children in London 

Help Little Village coordinate the London-wide response for 0-5s and distribute critical warm clothing and nappies to children in temporary accommodation.

Little Village has supplied Afghan families in hotels in Camden with bundles of clothing, nappies, toiletries, toys and activity packs, as well as other essentials such as bottles and formula. If you are able to contribute to this appeal, please donate to the Little Village Crisis Fund

National campaigns 

We are also working with Care 4 Calais, The Lewisham Donation Hub and the British Red Cross who are running national campaigns which people can donate to.

Other national organisations are providing vital support, such as work with unaccompanied minors, and running fundraising appeals.