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Support in Exeter for Afghans who were forced to flee war and conflict

Published: 17 October 2023

Support in Exeter for Afghans who were forced to flee war and conflict Support in Exeter for Afghans

Exeter City Council has been working in partnership with Devon County Council and other districts in Devon to support Afghan refugees housed in ‘bridging hotels’ in the city.

Some families have been living in extremely difficult circumstances for more than two years since fleeing the war in Afghanistan.

Council officers have worked with households to identify housing that meets the family’s needs and we would like to thank our partners at Devon County Council for all their work in supporting the families to move out of the emergency accommodation and into their future homes.

As part of a series of features to mark the recent World Homeless Day, the Council paid a visit to some of those who have been helped to rebuild their lives in the city.

Below are two case studies, written in their own words, by some of those who have been assisted in Exeter. Their identities have been protected.

Case study one: support for a family

My elderly parents and I left Afghanistan in 2021.  Since arriving in the UK, we were living in temporary accommodation in Exeter where I attended college, my parents attended the mosque and we had formed a network of friends and support.

I was really anxious about finding somewhere to live because although I am working, I am also retraining and studying and my parents are reliant upon me.

It was a huge responsibility to try and find somewhere suitable to live in a new county, especially during a housing crisis and when we had not had any experience of renting in the UK.  We had started to look at properties in the city but rents were extremely high and I was worried that we were at risk of becoming homeless.

One day, we met with some representatives from Exeter City Council, and they said that they might be able to help.  We made arrangements to view a house in the St Thomas area of the city.  I had no idea what to expect.

My parents were hoping for a house as opposed to a flat and my father loves to garden so I could not believe my eyes when we saw the property, it was perfect!  The house was beautiful, light and clean and it had a large well sized garden and patio area at the back of the house.

There was even a cat sitting on the wall, and I love cats!  My father’s face was full of joy and we just knew that we had to accept this offer.  We didn’t think twice about accepting the property.

Exeter City Council explained how it would work and how they would be supporting us.  It was really comforting to know that they understood our circumstances and such a relief.

We have been in the house for two months now and it certainly feels like home. Our friends have been around to visit us, neighbours have been welcoming and it is wonderful to start to have a sense of normality again.

Case study two: support for young people

My friend and I were evacuated from Afghanistan in 2021. We had been living in Exeter where we attended college and had been commuting to work outside of the city.

Although we looked for private rented properties closer to work, ideally we hoped to find something in Exeter because we know the city really well and we have a community of support there.

Rents tend to be really high in the city and we were amazed at the competition for properties.  Due to the fact that my friend and I are currently retraining and studying, our options were really limited, and we were becoming more and more concerned about what we would do if we were unable to find somewhere that was suitable and affordable.

Our support workers from Devon County Council approached us and told us that Exeter City Council had several properties that had been offered to them by private landlords who specifically wanted to offer them to resettled families and individuals residing in the city.

It sounded like a great option so we went along to view a property in a leafy part of the city, not far from where we had been staying.

The flat was in an ideal location, within walking distance of the town and close to amenities.  We met with the landlady who was so kind and really sympathetic about our situation.  We all agreed that the flat would be a great fit for us and we seized the offer and accepted the offer of accommodation. 

We have been in the flat for two months and we couldn’t be happier.  It is such a relief to know that we have secured accommodation in the city and we can now live independently.  We hope that in the future, we will qualify and find jobs in the city and make it our long term home.  We are grateful to our wonderful landlady and to Exeter City Council for giving us this opportunity.

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