'Don't take advantage of Luton' warning, as government is asked to share Afghan refugee load more fairly

Council leader highlights the 'strain being placed on the Luton system'

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 1:01 pm

The number of Afghan refugees in Luton compared to other areas is causing concern, the council has said, after the Home Office temporarily placed another group in the town this week.

Council leader Hazel Simmons says, while the town is pleased to play a part in helping those fleeing Taliban rule, she doesn't want Luton - and its already stretch services - being taken advantage of.

She said: “We are calling upon the government to think about the strain being placed on the Luton system.

He;ping Afghan refugees

“Luton is proud to be known as a caring town. We have already stretched open arms to hundreds who have been placed here in quarantine and bridging hotels over the last couple of weeks and residents have demonstrated an unprecedented outpouring of compassion from individuals and the voluntary sector."

She added: "Once again we sprang into action this week working alongside local charities and volunteers sorting through essential clothing for the most recent arrivals, all generously donated by people across the town through collections organised by our amazing voluntary sector and business partners.

“But we are under a lot of pressure and we don’t want our community’s generosity being taken advantage of.

“It’s the responsibility of the Home Office to provide the adequate care, safeguarding and support, however, the support that traumatised people will rightly need, still places a strain upon council and other services. It is easy to imagine that these guests simply need a square meal and adequate clothing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Refugees have arrived in Luton, while volunteers have been sorting clothing for them

“On a recent visit to some of these families I was able to witness first hand all that has been put in place. A whole array of highly professional services, ranging from health, to social care, translation, advice and education are being called upon to help individuals and families adjust to life in a new country.

“We understand that as a nation we have a wonderful history of providing sanctuary when people need it most. It is part of who we are. We have played our part. Now it is the turn of others.

“We urge ministers to ask their political colleagues across the country to share in the challenge we face as a whole country.”

For more information on giving items or financial support please see https://m.luton.gov.uk/Page/Show/news/Pages/Afghan-refugees.aspxThe council says it urgently need volunteers at the Town Hall to help sort a large amount of clothing for Afghan refugees.

If you are available today (September 16) between 9am to 6pm then contact Scott Eastwood on 07394 405055 or email [email protected]Further help may be necessary on Friday, September 17 (to be confirmed).

> What do you think? Can Luton cope? Email [email protected]