10 more refugee families may be welcomed to North Somerset
PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 January 2018
Four refugee families have successfully settled in North Somerset, and more people could soon make a home in the district too.
North Somerset Council is considering finding homes for 10 more Syrian refugee families as part of the Government’s efforts to resettle 20,000 people in the UK.
In total, 17 people from Syria have already made a home in North Somerset but the authority agreed to regularly review whether it could accommodate more.
The council initially struggled to find homes at rents which could be met through housing benefit and universal credit, but generous homeowners who wanted to rent their properties to refugees stepped forward to help.
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.”
Other organisations have worked with the council to support the families, including Christians Together In Nailsea And District, and Refugees Welcome North Somerset.
Holly Law, who set up 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.”
Voluntary Action North Somerset also provided support workers to help people settle in, and both Weston College and schools have supported them to learn and improve their English.
The council believes Government funding over the next five years is sufficient to cover any costs involved.