29/02/2016 - Permalink

Work to resettle Syrian refugees in Shropshire moving ahead

Related topics: Adult social care / Community / Partner organisations

Work to resettle Syrian refugees in Shropshire are now moving ahead, with plans to take up to 10 Syrian families.

Oswestry and Shrewsbury have initially been identified as potential locations, and Shropshire’s cross-party working group are working with housing providers to identify homes in both towns, for those Syrian families resettling into the county.

The first phase of the resettlement is due to start in late Spring 2016.

Mal Price, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning, housing, regulatory services and environment, said:

“It is still too early to say where exactly those Syrians refugees we are supporting will be housed, but we have been offered three rented homes in Oswestry from a private landlord. We will continue to work with housing providers, initially in Oswestry and Shrewsbury, to find homes for the remaining families.

“We have received a lot of support from local communities and faith groups. Once the refugees arrive in Shropshire, we will co-ordinate offers of social, practical and other support in order to help Syrian families to integrate and to settle in our county.”

Following the Government’s announcement in September 2015 to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees, councillors unanimously agreed that month to support the Syrian Refugee appeal.

As a result, a cross-party working group was set up, which is supported by senior officers who will be co-ordinating the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Shropshire. Members of the group include:

  • Councillors representing each of the political parties
  • Shropshire Council’s adult services, children’s services, safeguarding team and housing services
  • Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly
  • West Mercia Police
  • Shropshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Shropshire Fire and Rescue

The group are working closely with the Government’s West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership (WMSMP) to put in place arrangements to house and support the refugees.

The cross-party group have been working through plans to help resettle up to 10 Syrian families (up to 60 individuals). Work includes identifying accommodation, collating offers of support, reviewing health requirements and other key support services.

Following a call out for expressions of interest to oversee the resettlement of Syrian refugees, Shropshire Council is currently reviewing responses from organisations.

The successful tender will support families in registering with their local GP, and also be asked to ensure that school-age children are found places at schools within two months of their arrival. They will also oversee that appointments are booked with the Department for Work and Pensions regarding benefits, and that they are given a case worker and a tour of the area.

Since the crisis in Syria has escalated, the council has received numerous offers of help from individuals and communities who’ve already organised themselves to provide aid.

Several independent groups have been set up across the county to help and support Syrian refugees.

Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North, and member of the cross-party refugee working group, added:-

“There is a groundswell of support for Syrian refugees in and around Ludlow. Local people are also volunteering to help migrants and refugees in Greece and Calais.

“We are setting up a local support group to discuss how we can best help in this humanitarian crisis. Our first meeting will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 March 2016 at the Quaker Meeting House, Ludlow.

“Everyone who wishes to help in any way or learn more is welcome.”

Oswestry Welcomes Syrian Refugees group will be hosting an information event on Saturday 5 March 2016 at the Willow Gallery Dunbabin Room from 10am – 1pm. The group of over 100 individuals and businesses, was set up in September 2015 by Jools Payne from the Jools Payne Partnership, to offer friendship, mentoring, skills development and therapeutic and wellbeing services or simply offer the hand of friendship to families from Syria when they arrive.

Barbara Stafford-Cairns, member of the cross-party working group who will be attending the event, added:

“I have been part of the working group since September, having joined Jools and others at the event in Oswestry at that time. Working across the public sector and in close contact with local community groups I am confident that vulnerable Syrian refugee families will be welcomed and resettled quickly in Shropshire. The positive approach taken by individuals, community organisations and public sector bodies is very encouraging.”

A Shrewsbury supports refugee group has also been set up on Facebook. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1180789855282292/

For more information about the Shropshire’s resettlement programme or if you want to register your support, please email refugeesshropshire@shropshire.gov.uk

We will be contacting all residents and groups who have kindly offered support as our plans progress.

You can also visit http://shropshire.gov.uk/syrian-refugee-support/. Here you’ll find FAQs to address any questions members of the public may want to ask, and myth busters around both refugees and asylum seekers.