Established by the UK Government, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) was launched in April 2021. In the summer of that year, local authorities were called upon to expand their support to Afghan personnel who worked alongside the British military as interpreters and translators, as well as at-risk citizens.

As 2024 begins with the theme of ‘Our Home’ at the heart of Refugee Week later this year, we share the incredible story of James Dieterle, deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corp (REME).

James worked as a translator with the Afghan Forces and formed a strong bond with those he worked with. In 2021 he facilitated his Afghan colleague and friend – and subsequently his family – to safety in the UK, following the fall of the Afghan Government.

James’ commitment to the family continued once in he returned home; he became a landlord himself in order to house the family, accessing resources and support to help them resettle and rebuild their lives. It is an extraordinary and moving story which James only now feels ready to share. Watch video: Resettlement in Somerset – A Landlord’s story

Cllr Federica Smith Roberts, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture comments:

I have heard many amazing stories of Somerset communities coming together to create a safe and welcoming environment for guests to re-settle and rebuild their lives.

James’ story is no exception and while many may not be in a position to do what he has in purchasing a home for a family to rent, there are many other ways to support and assist refugee resettlement in the UK.

We have a strong track record of pulling together across the county and I am humbled by the warmth, support and generosity that continues to be demonstrated to displaced people across our communities, parishes and districts.

To find out more about becoming a Private Landlord to a displaced family or to register your interest, visit Refugee resettlement in Somerset or email

There are a number of ways to support refugees and asylum seekers in Somerset, in addition to becoming a landlord. If you are able to offer your time, skills or resources to supporting guests, get in touch at

If you would like to find out more about ways you can help support displaced people in Somerset, visit Support refugee settlement in Somerset and how you can help.

To find out how you could change a child’s story as a foster carer for an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child, visit or call 0800 587 9900 to find out more.

Kabul to Somerset map

About this article

January 3, 2024

Gayatri Barua-Howe


Press Release