More refugees could be housed here, says welcome group

Thursday 31st December 2015 12:34 pm
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CORNWALL is to offer resettlement for Syrian refugee families after making a formal offer to the Home Office — but ‘Refugees Welcome in Bude’ say more could be done.

Under the UK Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, two or three Syrian families travelling to the UK could be resettled in Cornwall as early as March.

Cornwall Council?Leader John Pollard said: “Cornwall has a proud record of being open-hearted and inclusive and we are looking forward to being able to welcome our first Syrian families.

“It is hard for us to imagine what refugees have been through but we hope that they will be able to find a new start here in Cornwall where they will be able to feel safe and free from persecution.”

After seeing this on Cornwall Council’s website, member of the Refugees Welcome in Bude group, Mary Whibley told the Post: “The council seem very proud of what they are doing but Cornwall are to take in only 60 refugees over the next five years — this equates to only around 12 families.

“This, to us, seems a paltry offer when you consider there are more than ten towns in Cornwall with populations exceeding 10,000 people.

“If each large town were to take in three families we could easily accommodate more refugees without causing much disturbance.

“We want to try and push for Cornwall to take in up to six families a year, so that by the five-year period we will have helped resettle 150 refugees, drastically increasing the amount of people we are able to help.”

As part of the resettlement of the first few Syrian refugees the Home Office will support a multi-agency partnership to prepare for the initial intakes.

The partnership includes Cornwall Housing, NHS Kernow, Job Centre Plus, Inclusion Cornwall, Devon and Cornwall Police, CSW Group Limited and community and faith representatives, who will all work alongside Cornwall Council’s housing, education, adults, children’s and localism services.

The group has mapped out, in preparation, the availability of school places, primary care services, access to language and religious support and the availability of private sector rented accommodation.

Work is also taking place with local community groups and individuals, like ‘Refugees Welcome in Bude’, who have expressed an interest in providing help for any refugees coming to Cornwall.

Mary said: “The reaction we have had to the work we have done so far has been great. We have received one negative comment but the rest has been very supportive.

“People just want to do something to help as they sympathise and wonder what if it was their own families in the position these refugees are in.”

The Bude group has spoken with Borth Cornwall MP Scott Mann to try and rally his support for the cause.

For the few refugees that will be resettled in the UK over the next five years the Government will be providing full medical checks and security vetting.

They will then be flown directly from countries neighbouring Syria to England where they will be met by the Cornwall Refugee Partnership and taken on to their new homes.

In order to protect their privacy, the partnership will be unable to reveal information about the locations of refugees — but they have confirmed they will be housed in temporary private sector housing.

To aid this the Refugees Welcome in Bude group have ensured the partnership is aware of any letting agents in the Bude area willing to provide accommodation.

The group contacted local letting agents asking them to write to their private landlords informing them of ways they can register their properties for leasing to selected refugees — every estate agent in Bude agreed to inform their landlords, the group said.

The group also contacted Duchy College to see if it would be interested in offering accommodation available during non-term time.

Mary said: “After speaking to Citizens UK, we got in contact with Duchy College to enquire as to whether they would be able to provide accommodation, much like that being offered by the University of East London. We have not heard back from them as yet.

”This does not mean we will give up the fight though. We intend to battle on and keep doing our best to help the refugees.

“We will hopefully be setting up another event in the New Year to collect warm clothes and blankets to send out, but this hasn’t been fully organised as yet.”

For more information on Cornwall’s response to the refugee crisis, including how advice on how to offer help, visit the website www.cornwall.gov.uk/syrianrefugees