More support is needed to help provide funding for housing for refugees who are building a new life in Camden, says the council leader.
Speaking at the full council meeting on Monday 27 February, 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 the government sponsorship scheme to people fleeing war-torn Ukraine and the council is helping support host families with a £200 a month top up of the Homes for Ukraine payment.
She said the council is lobbying the government “really hard” for funding to help schemes to buy back former council homes.
Camden council 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 refugees a place they can call home and is talking to the Greater London Authority about funding.
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 who “are thriving within our community”.
However, she 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 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.”
Cllr Gould updated colleagues after the council joined the UK-wide Borough Sanctuary Network in a move which won cross party support.
She said: “Refugees will always be welcome here and we will stand together and show they are part of our community.”
It follows a debate last month when refugees and councillors shared stories of fleeing their homes under difficult circumstances before settling in Camden.
It 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, recognising “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.
Camden Council: Full Council – Monday, 27th February, 2023 7.00 pm.