As the World watches the scenes in Afghanistan we will all be asking ourselves how can we help - those left behind in the country, those safely in the UK or another friendly nation and those in limbo?
I am pleased to hear that the organisations in the UK who are already involved with the Afghani community are working hard to address the imminent needs, but they will need more support and help as the demands are growing. Apart from statutory bodies such as national government and local authorities, civil society is also treating the situation with urgency and intent. As has been proved at other moments of major crisis ( 7/7 London bombings or Grenfell Tower) the help can best be given in collaboration with those nearest the need and ideally from an existing relationship with a trusted partner on the ground. London Funders (the umbrella body for all London funding trusts, endowments corporates and local authorities) called a meeting last week to co-ordinate the response and share thoughts. Exchanging knowledge and intelligence about the issues is critical so that the best actions can be taken. I anticipate good actions will now follow. Specialist groups understanding immigration, legal and language needs are critical as well as being able to negotiate the bureaucracy of the funding and housing provision that is being offered.
Help can be provided in several ways:
Raising money for displaced people in Afghanistan, in the UK and in between. As with all such donations they need to be given to the right organisation who has the ability to use this wisely and are credible in their aims
Supporting resettled people arriving in the UK (2,000 people arrived early last week, others will follow and many are likely to gravitate to London). At present 60% of the UK’s 250,000 residents of Afghan origin live in Greater London.
Working to integrate people through housing advice, language classes, mentoring, social and cultural support, legal advice, immigration advice and well as support with paperwork
Working with other organisations in lobbying the Home Office to allow more Afghans into the UK or provide help in other ways
I know that the City Bridge Trust is one of the funders reviewing the needs and supporting their grantees working in this area. My law firm is providing pro bono advice to new arrivals on legal and administrative matters. Many other initiatives are in hand. Responding to this crisis and welcoming those in need into our neighbourhood and communities will be a mark of our humanity. Let us all hope that the UK can deliver on this.