Watch: Local council volunteering to take in five Afghan families
A local council has offered to take five Afghan refugee families – and has encouraged authorities across the UK to make similar pledges.
The government announced this week that the UK will take up to 20,000 people fleeing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
Caroline Jackson, the leader of Lancaster Council, said the authority has volunteered to take five Afghan families, reflecting that they "already have a large number of asylum seekers and refugees from other areas with us".
But Jackson said they are "very keen" to add to that numbers as they find more accommodation in the future.
She told Sky News that other councils should also volunteer to take Afghan refugees as they "will give a lot to the communities".
She said: "Many of them speak very good English...
"They've been working with our forces, they share some of our values...
"They just want to get on and set up a new life."
Jackson said there are Afghans who have been working on the front line with British troops and therefore "don’t lack courage", adding: "They’re going to be really useful to your communities."
Following the government’s announcement to find homes for thousands of Afghan refugees, offers of help have already come from various parts of the country.
The leader of Newark and Sherwood Council John Robinson confirmed it had welcomed its first resettled Afghan family tweeting he was "blown away by their resilience, optimism and gratitude in the face of such tragedy."
James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association which represents councils across England and Wales, said councils "stand ready to work with government to design any new resettlement scheme" while Wirral Council leader Jan Williamson said there would be a welcome for "those who need our assistance."
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, told Radio 4’s Today programme: "We of course – as always – stand ready to help and to welcome people here who need our help, but it does need to be fair to places like Greater Manchester."
Steve Rotheram, metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region, told the Liverpool Echo: "Our city region has long been a sanctuary for people escaping war, famine and persecution and we will do all we can to assist refugees from this terrible conflict."
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council, which had been planning to help between five and 10 families this year, said its officers had been in discussions with the Home Office on Wednesday about planning for the arrival of more Afghan families in the region.
However, the government has faced criticism that it is not moving quickly enough to take in refugees, with 5,000 expected this year.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) described the resettling of 5,000 Afghans as "woefully inadequate."
JCWI chief executive Satbir Singh warned that local authorities are currently "woefully underfunded" and will need resources "to house Afghan refugees safety, welcome them and give them the chance to rebuild their lives."
On Wednesday home secretary Priti Patel defended the government’s Afghan resettlement scheme, telling Sky News: "We are working quickly on this. We cannot accommodate 20,000 people all in one go. Currently we are bringing back almost 1,000 people a day.
"This is an enormous effort. We can’t do this on our own. We have to work together."
Watch: The UK has agreed to accept 20,000 refugees