The Afghan Crisis has caused a huge amount of extra work for the caseworkers. On the first Friday after the fall of Kabul we had 150 calls to the office. Things are calmer now, but we get several requests a day for help.
There is no paid support for the Afghan families when they arrive to hotel accommodation. They remain there until there is housing for them either locally or nationally. Because of the limitations of the benefit cap on their Universal Credit (once they claim it) housing must be limited to places where the rent is within the Local Housing Allowance, or else it is unaffordable. At present, nobody has the paperwork to apply for a National Insurance number (current waiting times 16 weeks) so they are a long way from being self-sufficient. Cash has been a difficulty for the families with organisations trying to give out what should have come from the Home Office. One family has 7 children, so it is really important that they have enough money to get out and about and even a trip to the park and an ice cream needs some cash. We were delighted to use the appeal funds you helped raise to give each family a good amount in vouchers that are usable in most stores. Using funds from the recent RA-C appeal, we have supplied dictionaries for adults and children, prayer mats, story books in Dari and English, personal items for the women, and cooking pots for some families. Four families have been put into housing already, but we do have concerns about their isolated addresses – one family is in Harwich.
In other casework, domestic violence cases continue at a far higher level than before – with around 70 new cases this year plus ongoing cases from last year. And we continue to see people arriving with late EU applications for a range of complex reasons. There was government funding until September to several organisations helping with these applications, but their workload led them to start refusing clients well before the last day of funding. As is so often the case, RA-C has stepped in to offer support to those with nowhere else to turn.
The strength and caring of the paid staff and volunteers who assist us has made the office a productive and enjoyable place to work during these difficult times and so far we are holding our own!