Charity set up by Emsworth veteran to help Afghan refugees is praised for its incredible work

A VETERAN community group helping to resettle Afghan refugees has been praised for its incredible work by an MP.

Saturday, 13th November 2021, 1:52 pm
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, pictured centre, with volunteers from Ems4Afghan at their collection hub in Fareham as they sift through donated clothes for refugees.

Ems4Afghans was set up in the wake of the Afghanistan evacuation crisis in the summer to help those who fled the nation’s capital of Kabul after the Taliban regained power.

Founded by Emsworth RAF veteran Matt Simmons, the organisation offers clothes, toiletries and other essential items to families who fled from Afghanistan.

And now the group’s work has garnered praise from Labour’s shadow armed forces minister Stephen Morgan, who has been helping to sort donations at the group’s hub in Fareham.

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The Portsmouth South MP’s praise comes just days after Ems4Afghans volunteer and RAF veteran Melanie Clark helped deliver an Afghan refugee’s baby in a bridging hotels on Tuesday.

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Earlier this week, Mr Morgan visited a bridging hotel where Afghans who supported British forces are being housed temporarily to give out ‘winter packs’ of coats, scarves, hats and gloves as the weather turns colder.

As well as basic needs like winter clothes, the MP also raised concerns that the Home Office was yet to process their immigration paperwork.

Without confirmation of the Indefinite Leave to Remain promised by the government, evacuees face difficulties in accessing work, housing and essential services.

The separate Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme has still not yet been launched.

Mr Morgan said: ‘Matt has led an inspirational group of local veterans to support those Afghan nationals who bravely backed British forces during their deployment.

‘Their sense of duty to those who served alongside them represents the best of our forces, and I want to pay tribute to them as we mark Remembrance.

‘Unfortunately, ARAP (Afghan relocations and assistance policy) evacuees and their families – who have already suffered immense hardship – now find themselves at the mercy of a postcode lottery of support and constrained by a cliff edge on their immigration status.

‘Councils, charities like Ems4Afghans and voluntary organisations are doing their best on the ground. But ministers must deliver clear and consistent pathways for the support offered through Operation Warm Welcome if they are to keep the promises they have made to those who bravely supported our forces.’

Ems4Afghans founder Matt Simmons said: ‘The initial crisis support we offered was so important, with those fleeing for their lives coming to the UK with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

‘It's more than that though. For me starting Ems4Afghans was about building relationships and being a bridge between communities where we can do great work in the future in resettlement - education, jobs.

‘I wanted to make them feel welcome. We have a sense of duty as they worked alongside British forces.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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