Charities who are supporting thousands of Afghan refugees who arrive in the UK are amazed at the many offers of employment which businesses have offered to refugees. A London charity which provides training and support for refugees to enable them to secure employment says that its network of 25 partner-employers will probably more than double in one week.
Approximately 8,000 Afghan former UK staff and their families were airlifted from Kabul during August after the Taliban swept across the country and seized power. As part of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘operation warm welcome’ a further 20,000 will come to the UK over the next five years.
Breaking Barriers senior business development manager, Jessica Ridgewell, said: “It has been very encouraging from a civil society and business perspective. Businesses want to understand how they can be responsible and take action”.
She went on to say that the demand has been staggering and is coming from a broad spectrum of industries. “It has been a busy week but a very encouraging and heart warming one. We have had a large number of inquiries from business of all shapes and sizes, from a dairy farm, tree surgeons, pharmaceutical companies to large national and global businesses”.
Welcoming society’s outpouring of support for Afghan refugees were many leading voices in Westminster. Labour Peer Alf Dubs, who came to the UK as a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia said: “It’s good, I have always felt the British people are essentially humanitarian, despite the hostile view held by some leading politicians against refugees and migrants. We are receiving far more positive responses from local communities than anything positive coming from the top”.
Grant Thornton UK LLP, a large accountancy firm is one of the known companies keen to offer employment to Afghan refugees. Karen Higgins head of sustainability said: “Gary Thornton values diversity through everyday inclusion and alongside Breaking Barriers we are determined to address this humanitarian crisis together”.
She went on to say: “We stand in solidarity alongside like-minded businesses keen to support refugees into meaningful employment. We will continue to hire refugee talent and we encourage other companies to do the same”.
Lord Dubs said that the government’s 20,000 figure was inadequate. “It’s good but it’s too small, adding that the five year timeline is too drawn out. The need is now, not in three or four years time”.
Politicians have concerns regarding whether the 20,000 refugees will be granted indefinite leave to remain status, securing them full status to work and live in the UK, – which has already been confirmed for the separate 8,000 airlifted Afghans.
Breaking Barriers have said that with many resettled Afghan families still quarantining after arriving in the UK the offers of employment has not yet started.