We have a duty to help those who have helped us. That’s why, as part of our Town of Sanctuary efforts, Cheltenham has agreed to house seven families who have served our country in the line of duty. These people have all put themselves in danger by aiding our armed forces as interpreters during the conflict in Afghanistan.
The lead member of each family group worked with British forces acting as local interpreters in the long running conflict. The UK has been running a scheme to support locally employed staff (LES) in Afghanistan, often in dangerous and challenging situations, in recognition of their commitment and bravery shown supporting UK forces since 2013.
Due to the nature of the work undertaken by these individuals it has often led to them becoming alienated and even targeted by their own communities. This sometimes resulted in threats of violence not only against the interpreters themselves but also their families.
These individuals have shown great courage and bravery in working with UK forces in Afghanistan and it is widely recognised that their interventions saved countless British lives during the long and ugly conflict.
With this in mind and to recognise their invaluable contribution and sacrifice in saving British lives, as well as helping to shorten British involvement in the conflict, the government has quite rightly agreed to set up this scheme which will enable former interpreters to not only settle and work here in the UK, but also continue to assist in protecting their families too - because unfortunately it would be unsafe for them to return to Afghanistan.
The funding to look after these family groups is provided by government. Local authorities such as Cheltenham Borough Council, in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Homes, will help with the support and integration of our new residents. Assisting them in settling into their new homes, schools and communities as well as assisting them into finding jobs locally.
We look forward to welcoming our new Afghan friends to Cheltenham.
- Councillor Mike Collins, Cabinet Member for Housing