A British Army veteran who is campaigning to bring interpreters and their families from Afghanistan to the UK is thrilled that donations to his fundraising page have far exceeded his expectations, and says: "It's time now for us to step in and help them."
Julian Perreira, a former Grenadier Guard who completed three tours in Afghanistan, says that Afghan interpreters were directly responsible for the safety of British forces who were working in Helmand province on Operation Herrick and contributed to saving lives. Mr Perreira said:
"The reason I stepped in is because I find sometimes it's the money that talks and, in my opinion, the huge barrier for some of these interpreters has been a financial one and I don't think you can put a price on a human life."
WATCH: Julian Perreira speaks to Forces News' James Hirst about his fundraising campaign
With the news that 600 British personnel are to deploy to Afghanistan on a short-term basis to help UK nationals leave the country as the Taliban continue their offensive, it is crucial that costs like buying birth and marriage certificates and passports are taken care of as soon as possible.
The UK scheme to resettle former Afghan staff, including interpreters, was expanded earlier this year, with ministers saying that about 3,000 more people, including family members, would be eligible, but it is becoming a race against time for some and the hurdles are not just bureaucratic – they are financial too.
On average it costs $600 for a family of four to buy the official documentation to relocate, but with many of them now out of work, they are struggling to afford such things. Speaking to Forces News, Mr Perreira said:
"What they need right now is the ability to get those passports and those documents ASAP and it's proven that it's worked."
Over the past 48 hours, the Help British Military Afghan Interpreters fundraiser has received several donations from members of the public, serving personnel and veterans. At the time of writing, more than 229 donors had raised £12,542 against the goal of £2,580. Of the success of the campaign, Mr Perreira said:
"It's been really positive.
"Donations have gone through the roof and they're really helping on the frontlines of helping these interpreters to get the relevant documentation that they require."
Mr Perreira is keeping in contact with the interpreters both in Afghanistan and on their arrival in the UK. The eight families the fundraising has helped so far are arriving in the Midlands and having to quarantine in hotels for 10 days. Mr Perreira said:
"They've mentioned they're being well looked after.
"They're being fed well, clothed well and they couldn't be happier."