North Somerset may welcome 10 more refugee families in next two years

PUBLISHED: 17:30 03 January 2018

Refugees Welcome North Somerset hosting a 'bring and share' food event.

Refugees Welcome North Somerset hosting a 'bring and share' food event.

Archant

Ten more refugee families could be found homes in North Somerset over the next two years, as 17 people have already been successfully resettled in the district.

North Somerset Council agreed to find homes for four families as part of the Government’s commitment to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees in the country.

The authority agreed to regularly review whether it could accommodate more households, and may look to resettle 10 more families through the Government’s Syrian refugee programmes, which run up to 2020.

Although it has been difficult for the council to find homes for families at rents which could be met through housing benefit and universal credit, generous homeowners who wanted to rent their homes to refugees have stepped forward to help.

Refugees Welcome North Somerset also supported the authority’s efforts to help the first four families get settled in.

Holly Law, from Refugees Welcome, said: “The majority of support we gave was pre-arrival.

“The most practical thing we did was to co-ordinate donations of new items to make their homes feel as welcoming as possible.

“We are happy to ramp up our efforts again to work with other agencies to help in a similar way.

“We are interested in looking at what we can do to support families on a more ongoing basis, such as setting up regular drop-in sessions, where members of the community and the families can come together to practice English or share a meal together.”

Other organisations have also helped North Somerset’s refugee families. Voluntary Action North Somerset provides support workers to help them settle in, and Weston College and schools have supported people to learn English.

The council’s director of people and communities, Sheila Smith, said in a report: “Initial outcomes are promising with the families settling into North Somerset well.

“Once families have been in the area for six months they complete an assessment of how they feel they are progressing.

“In summary this shows they feel safe in their home, are registered with appropriate services and are supported by workers and volunteers and overall are very positive about residing in North Somerset and their experience so far in the area.”

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