With the final military evacuation from Afghanistan complete, a significant cross-government effort called Operation Warm Welcome is underway to ensure Afghans arriving in the UK receive the vital support they need and integrate into their local communities.
It is important to remember that these Afghans have put their own lives at risk by working alongside the UK military, as translators or in other roles, helping to keep them and us safe. They will be granted immediate indefinite leave to remain, meaning they can now stay in the UK without any time restrictions.
The Government is making at least £12 million available to prioritise additional school places so children can be enrolled as soon as possible, and to provide school transport, specialist teachers and English language support to assist with learning.
While many will speak English through their work with the UK Government and British forces, and as translators, language classes will ensure all their family members can fully integrate into their local communities.
Working through a countywide partnership, all seven local authorities here in Gloucestershire have agreed an ambition to resettle up to 35 families in the county. Since 2015, Gloucestershire has resettled over 80 families through the Syrian Refugee Resettlement programme.
Housing, health, education, and social care services across the county, supported by housing providers, landlords and local partners will work together to make sure the needs of those arriving in the county are met.
Meanwhile, last week also saw a welcome announcement by the Government - a new criminal offence to tackle pet abduction. Many constituents have written to me about this issue. As a dog owner, I know how our pets are not just companions but members of our family too.
A Pet Theft Taskforce, led by the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, was established to sort this issue out.
I’m grateful for the efforts of Gloucestershire’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson, who has campaigned hard on this issue and pressed the matter with Ministers up to and including the PM. Chris Nelson was only elected in May and he’s already delivering on his key election pledges to make Gloucestershire safer.