In December 2020, the Government announced the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to current and former Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan, in light of the changing situation in Afghanistan. The scheme supports people who worked for the UK in Afghanistan performing roles such as supporting UK Armed Forces or working in government departments including the British Embassy. The scheme launched in April 2021.
After working with Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) to as part of their Syrian Refugee Resettlement scheme, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) approached FFBS in June 2021 about working together to deliver resettlement properties in line with ARAP. NYCC is committed to resettle 1 per cent of the Afghan refugees arriving in the UK based on a fair share allocation across the nation, due to North Yorkshire’s population being 1 per cent of the national total. This project was in direct response to the Home Office’s urgent request to Local Authorities after the situation in Afghanistan became increasingly dangerous for Afghans who had worked with the UK there.
One of the main challenges of delivering the scheme is the quick turnaround time for refitting and adequately equipping properties for Afghans arriving in the UK. It’s imperative that the houses are prepared quickly so that families’ resettlements aren’t delayed.
When the Afghan refugees and their families come to the UK, they are housed in temporary accommodation (after self-isolating due to Covid safety measures) and NYCC want to make sure their new homes are ready to move into as soon as possible. Due to the difficult and unpredictable situations the Afghan refugees are in, the dates they arrive in the UK can change or be agreed at very short notice which makes planning the property refits more challenging.
Additionally, the properties are completely empty so everything from cutlery and crockery to beds, furniture and white goods is required. This poses a significant administrative challenge for NYCC as ordinarily these items cannot be sourced from one supplier.
Jonathan Spencer, Project Manager for North Yorkshire Refugee Resettlement, said: “After working with FFBS and their supplier TFS on our Syrian Refugee Resettlement project, I was confident that the same level of service, care and pride would be undertaken on this scheme. Flexibility and the ability to provide support quickly are key for this scheme to be successful, and working with FFBS makes this possible.”
FFBS’ complete procurement service enables NYCC to buy all of the items they require in one place – our online Portal. This enables the council to furnish homes with ease, with just one supplier contract and consolidated monthly invoicing with FFBS. The portal allows the NYCC team to make and manage their orders in one place, as well as track orders, spending and budgets with our integrated management information and reporting suite.
As well as being able to easily place orders through our Portal, our team manages everything from supplier selection and price negotiations to delivery and warranties, helping NYCC to make further savings on administration time and costs. The council also benefits from a competitive management fee – including a dedicated Helpdesk and Account Manager – and, thanks to our collective buying power, we supply our high-quality goods at discounted prices. All of this maximises the impact of NYCC’s funding, which is key for Local Authorities.
FFBS’ Operations team works closely with our trusted suppliers to deliver an enhanced service to our customers. For this project, they liaise with the supplier, TFS, in advance to ensure that all required items are in stock so that the houses can be fitted out in time and on schedule. Additionally, TFS make sure that a manager is on site to oversee each delivery to check items against an inventory and ensure each house is left clean and tidy.
A Housing Officer who attended one of the properties being refitted said: “The furniture was all delivered last Saturday and it went really well. The suppliers (who travelled from Scotland) did a great job and it was really easy on the day. They were really conscientious. I let them in the properties and then left them to it. When I returned it all looked really neat and tidy too.” You can read more about how TFS go above and beyond to deliver a great service for our customers in our blog.
Between July and September 2021, FFBS helped NYCC fit out nine properties with 15-20 more due to be completed between October and December 2021. Another benefit of FFBS’ business model is that we can work flexibly with customers to efficiently provide items when they’re needed most, with a short turnaround on orders when required.
Each property is fitted out in a single delivery which includes both essential furniture, white goods such as a washing machine and cooker and homeware. This provides families with a safe and comfortable home where they can settle into a new life in the UK.
Jonathan said: “The families we are helping are leaving incredibly challenging and dangerous situations in Afghanistan when they come to the UK. The first step to starting new, safe and happier lives is to have somewhere to live that gives them a sense of security and belonging. It is essential, therefore, that their new properties feel like home and we take pride in providing them with just that with the help of FFBS.”
From pre-payment cards to white goods, we make procuring and distributing practical support to households easy. Find out how we can help your organisation save time and money by getting in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.