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Caritas Shrewsbury - Working collaboratively to welcome Afghan refugees

24 May 2023 - 13:14 by helen.walker

Caritas Shrewsbury work with children, families, communities and parishes to build stronger, supportive communities, wherever there is current disadvantage. 

In September 2021, Caritas Shrewsbury were involved in the rapidly developing emergency work to welcome Afghan refugees. Initially the response involved providing food, mother and baby supplies, toiletries, phones, shoes and clothes to arrivals. After working with partners to meet these needs, their involvement evolved to meet the wider needs such as education, training, wellbeing and integration. 

Staff at Caritas Shrewsbury wanted to highlight the importance of partnership work involved this response, and one said "Without the partnership work, we would not have been able to fill the need". Manchester Women’s Aid, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, Care4Calais, Manchester College, Foundation 92, the NHS, Manchester City of Sanctuary and Manchester City Council are just a handful of partners involved in this community response.  

Last year, Caritas Shrewsbury were appointed to act as the lead coordinator for the voluntary sector in the three hotels housing Afghan refugees in Manchester. It was their priority to make sure residents voices were heard, and what is needed is accessible and equal across all the hotels. 

There is now a wide range of activities at the hotels for individuals to get involved in such as ESOL, multi-sport, sewing classes, and football education programmes. Benefits to residents include reducing isolation, supporting mental health and integration. There are also several stories of residents who volunteered at the hotels, helping them to gain paid employment.

It was announced earlier this year that refugees who arrived under the Afghan Resettlement Programme will no longer be allowed to live in hotels by the end of 2023. This has caused a great deal of uncertainty about the next steps for all those involved in the hotels. "This is a community" is how one staff member described the hotels.  

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