COUNCIL leaders across Worcestershire have agreed to relocate more Syrian refugees to the county.
They agreed to host up to 50 Syrian refugees in Worcestershire and the aim is to resettle them in different areas of the county.
So far 50 refugees were resettled across Redditch, Wyre Forest and Worcester in 2016/17.
This new commitment will bring the total resettled under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in Worcestershire up to 100.
It follows a decision by the leaders of Worcestershire County, Bromsgrove District, Malvern Hills District, Redditch Borough, Worcester City, Wychavon District and Wyre Forest District Councils at a meeting on February 1.
Margaret Evans, Co-chair of Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees (BRWR), and a Bromsgrove resident, said the group was delighted and BRWR would be on hand to help.
“It’s not yet clear whether Bromsgrove or Redditch will be home to some of these families, but we’re ready to support them with integrating into life here, as we have for those already in Redditch.
“Whilst welcoming a further 50 refugees across the county is a small fraction of the millions of people displaced by Syria’s conflict, it’s clearly a positive step by Worcestershire to play its part.
“Since arriving in 2016, the five Syrian families living in Redditch have settled in well – volunteering, studying, working and making new friendships.”
Currently BRWR offers English classes, social activities and practical support to refugee families in Redditch. Anyone interested in volunteering with BRWR should visit their website: www.brwr.uk
In a joint statement the council leaders said the families identified under the Government’s scheme were some of the most vulnerable affected by the conflict, including women and children at risk and survivors of torture and violence.
They added they were proud to play their part.
“Government funding has enabled us to ensure we have the right infrastructure to support arriving refugees.
“We are also grateful to the support provided by volunteer groups across the county who are helping families become independent and be happy in their new lives in Worcestershire.”
The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme was expanded by Government in 2015 and pledged to resettle 20,000 refugees in in the UK by 2020.
Families will continue to be housed within the private rented sector to minimise the impact on social housing supply and other vulnerable groups, with the first of the new arrivals not expected until the autumn.
Accepted families are granted humanitarian protection and can remain for five years with full access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion comparable to refugees.
After five years, if they have not been able to return to Syria, they may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.