South Cambridgeshire announces plans to resettle refugee families from Syria

Cllr Hazel Smith, lead cabinet member for housing in South Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Cllr Hazel Smith, lead cabinet member for housing in South Cambridgeshire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

South Cambridgeshire District Council has announced its intention to resettle three to five refugee families within the district.

By providing suitable accommodation the council plans to offer a “humanitarian response” to families requiring urgent medical treatment, who are survivors of violence and torture and include women and children at risk and fleeing war torn countries including Syria.

In the recent consultation on its 2019-24 business plan, the council stated its intention to work with national, regional and local partners to support the needs of refugees and asylum seekers – and no negative responses were received.

A report published this week outlines plans for South Cambridgeshire District Council to work with an existing resettlement team at Cambridge City Council to ensure families have practical support in place to help them to integrate and thrive in their new homes and communities.

The resettlement teams ensure the families have access to Arabic speaking support workers, are welcomed to the UK, are helped with registration for welfare support and other relevant services, and will liaise with the local education authority to ensure school places are available on the family’s behalf.

Councillor Hazel Smith, lead cabinet member for housing in South Cambridgeshire, said: “The international refugee crisis sees families fleeing their homes and enduring truly horrendous experiences. It is up to all councils across the UK to take action to provide safe accommodation and, since taking control of the council in May 2018, the administration has been determined to play its part and offer these families a chance to integrate into safe and welcoming communities.”

Cambridge City Council resettles refugee families through two Home Office schemes – the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and The Resettlement of Vulnerable Children Scheme – and recently surpassed its target to resettle more than 100 refugees.

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Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We warmly welcome the commitment of South Cambridgeshire in expanding the number of Syrian refugee families being resettled locally, building on the scheme the City Council’s team has delivered successfully.

“We know from resettling locally more than 100 refugees since 2015 that there will be a great welcome and support for the families when they arrive from the local community in South Cambridgeshire and from volunteers and voluntary and charitable organisations who have provided great support for the refugees when they arrived, in learning English and in settling in.”

The report was published on March 13 ahead of consideration at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s scrutiny and overview committee, which takes place on March 21.

A final decision on the plans will be made at the cabinet meeting on April 3.