Supporting Vulnerable Syrian Families

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The Council committed to supporting the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and has welcomed 5 families to Surrey Heath in the last 5 years.

Currently we are looking for homes for two families and are contacting partners in the community who would like to support this work. 

What is the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS)?

You will know from the news that millions of Syrians have been displaced by the ongoing conflict. Having fled their homes, many have ended up in refugee camps in Syria and neighbouring countries.
 
The Government set up a scheme known as Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme (SVPRS) to help those who are in the greatest need in the refugee camps who cannot be supported in the region by giving them protection and support in the UK. Priority is given to women and children at risk, people requiring urgent medical attention and survivors of torture and violence.
 
People coming to the UK through this scheme are given five years Humanitarian Protection.
 
The UK Government set a criteria and the UNHCR, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, identifies potential cases. The final decision on who comes to the UK rests with the Government and people put forward can be rejected on security or other grounds.
 
The UK government planned to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees in Britain by 2020, under the VPRS, unfortunately due to Covid-19 a temporary suspension of refugee travel was announced in March 2020. Resettlement continued in December 2020 and the UK welcomed the final family under this scheme in March 2021. The scheme is now called the UK Resettlement Scheme and has replaced the VPRS.

More information about the Government’s work in Syria and the region can be found at the Government website.

What is Surrey Heath Borough Council doing?

To deliver this scheme, the Government has asked local Councils, in partnership with their communities, to lead in this work.

Surrey Heath Borough Council, along with other Surrey Authorities, has agreed to help in this humanitarian effort and is committed to welcome another 5 families.

How is the scheme funded?

The work the Council does is funded by a grant from central Government. This is money from the International Development Fund that was allocated to support people abroad but is now being used to support people in the UK.

We will also be working with local people, community organisations and businesses to support families.

As part of their Humanitarian Protection visas, families themselves will be able to claim benefits until they can find work. Part of the support provided will be to help those able to work acquire the language and employment skills needed to secure a job.

Where will these families live?

We know that affordable housing is scarce in Surrey Heath so we do not plan to use social housing for the families we welcome.

We are looking for people with properties to rent. They must be self-contained, available for at least two years, though preferably longer, and ideally within Local Housing Allowance levels.

We will help would-be landlords to set up tenancies for our families and support both landlord and tenant to make the tenancy successful.

If you have a property you think might be suitable, even if it is not immediately available, please send your contact details to ukrs@surreyheath.gov.uk and we will contact you to discuss further.

The way the scheme is set up we can only consider self-contained properties and so are not looking for people with spare rooms in their home.

How can I help?

We know from other areas that have already received families that there is a lot of support in the community for these families and we expect that to be the same in Surrey Heath.

Sometimes however the support has been overwhelming and offers of help and goods have been duplicated or inappropriate (for example we wouldn’t want lots of baby clothes if the families that came all had toddlers or older children).

In Surrey Heath we want to deliver a co-ordinated response that plays to everyone’s strength and gives maximum support to the families we welcome.

To do this we would like to hear from you if you, your organisation or business would like to help through donations or practical actions. You can do this by completing the short form             

Once registered, we will keep you up to date with our work, and call on you when we have families to welcome.

For more information on how you can help visit Help Refugees

If you would like any further information about the Council’s work on this scheme please contact: ukrs@surreyheath.gov.uk

Volunteering

SHBC is looking for committed volunteers to help with the integration of Syrian refugee families in the Borough.
 
Moving to the UK has been a huge adjustment for the families and they have faced several challenges settling into Surrey. Volunteer support will help them become more independent and to integrate into the community.
 
This role encompasses a wide variety of activities, from providing transport or accompanying the families on public transport to and from hospital/GP appointments, to providing ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) support, to helping with getting involved with events and the local community. 
 
Applicants should be willing to undergo a DBS check and basic safeguarding and cultural awareness training before carrying out this role.
 
SHBC's Senior Refugee Coordinator will help place the individuals interested in appropriate volunteer positions, based on interest, experience, available hours and skills and will offer support where needed. Expenses incurred during volunteering will be reimbursed.
 
For further information, please contact Eliza Ward on ukrs@surreyheath.gov.uk or 01276 707473.

Feedback from our refugee families

"All respect and thanks to the UK, thank you for standing next to me and my family. Because of you we are able to live a normal and safe life after years of unsettlement and fear in my country. It's because of you I am able to see the world with a new happy, safe, prosperous perspective. Thank you for providing a safety and peace to me and my family"
 
"Every Family Support Coordinator who worked with our family, has left an unforgettable mark on our lives, for the continuous emotional support. You facilitated all our appointments for us and worked hard with our family beyond your regular working hours. The support you gave us, has been unparalleled in any country we lived in as refugees. Most important of all, you made us feel human and valued again. Thank you"

Meet the team

Eliza Ward, Senior Refugee Coordinator
 
Soad Ragab, Family Support Coordinator
 
Rania Nuseibeh, Family Support Coordinator