Devon is playing its part in meeting the Government’s pledge to bring 20,000 most vulnerable Syrian refugees to the UK by 2020.
Local Councils, including South Hams District Council, have volunteered to participate in the programme and are now working in partnership with Refugee Support Devon to support refugees who are being relocated to areas of Devon.
The first few families have arrived and are settling into homes. Devon has formed a partnership to help families to settle in and lead independent, safe and productive lives. This includes professionals from the NHS, education and social care who make sure that local services will be able to meet refugees’ needs. Community and voluntary organisations including Refugee Support Devon have played a key role. The preparations have worked well in the areas where the first families have settled and Refugee Support Devon are now looking for additional volunteers in the South Hams.
This involves helping with orientation, attending appointments, English language support and transport, for which local knowledge is incredibly valuable. It is essential that volunteers are available during appointment hours.
Community and voluntary organisations are taking the lead in helping families get to know the local area and UK culture, make contact with faith and support groups, learn English and where possible get into work. As part of this work, Refugee Support Devon are looking to recruit volunteers who live in towns across Devon to coordinate befriending and outreach work.
Councils working together across Devon have offered to house at least 74 Syrian families over that time with the Government providing the funding for housing and other council costs under this relocation programme.
Leader of South Hams District Council, Councillor John Tucker said: “We fully understand that people in our communities want to help do all that they can to support refugees.
“We have received many enquiries from concerned residents asking to help with the situation and this is a great opportunity for them to do so. South Hams District Council continues to work with councils across Devon to relocate vulnerable Syrian refugees, and Refugee Support Devon offers much needed support after relocation.”
Michael Grace, Outreach Coordinator from Refugee Support Devon, added: “Our aim is to promote the wellbeing of all asylum seekers and refugees in Devon and to assist them in making informed choices about adapting to life in the UK.
“If you would like to help those who are being relocated in the South Hams, please get in touch or come along to the information session at the Council Offices at Follaton on 12 September to see what voluntary positions are available and what you can do to help with the humanitarian crisis.”
In particular we would welcome interest from people who speak Arabic, but this is not necessary, as professional interpreters will be present or language needs will be met for all appointments.
If you are interested in volunteering with Refugee Support Devon, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively come along to our information session at South Hams District Council, on the 12 September at 12.30 p.m.
Refugee families have been through great hardship and settling in a new country is a huge challenge. Families are entitled to privacy, so councils will not make individual announcements about the timing and locations of resettlement.