SHROPSHIRE Council has revealed it is working with the Home Office to offer safe homes to Afghan refugees fleeing from the Taliban.

This is in line with the Government's promise to give refuge in the UK to up to 5,000 Afghans immediately, with up to 20,000 over the longer term.

The council has issued an urgent appeal for landlords across the county, including Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing (STAR Housing) who manage the council's housing stock on its behalf, to help with the effort of finding suitable homes for those in need.

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and assets – including population health and integration, said recent events had been 'heart-breaking' and said the council would do all it could to offer homes to refugees.

"I have been shocked by the events I've seen unfolding in Afghanistan, and the desperate measures some are taking to flee the country – it's truly heart-breaking," he said.

"Over the past 20 years many Afghans have worked with members of our armed forces and civilian aid workers as interpreters and guides at great risk to themselves, so it goes without saying that we're keen to do all we can to help and we are working alongside our partners to try and find homes for those in need – as well as helping them to settle and start a new life in our county."

Shropshire Council is one of many local authorities across the country sourcing homes to support those having to flee Afghanistan currently.

Meanwhile, Jools Payne, who set up Oswestry Welcomes Refugees in 2015 to help Shropshire Council bring in Syrian refugees, said the county was ready to help.

She said: "Obviously we have got a good core of good, kind-hearted, warm, open people who have befriended, mentored and supported our Syrian friends since their arrival in 2016.

"I'm quite certain that those people and contacts would be ready and willing to offer their support.

"The country doesn't need to do 20,000 families over the next five years, it needs to do 20,000 as soon as possible.

"The problem is that we have an acute accommodation crisis across the country.

"We need to know how to get that volume of people out and processed safely and securely.

"It's an incredibly complex task.

"That is why we need a specialist agency like Refugee Action who are absolutely brilliant – that is who Shropshire Council commissioned last time to handle it for them.

"There's a lot to it – but do we stand ready to help? Absolutely we do."