Afghan relocation and resettlement
We are taking part in the national Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy
About refugee resettlement
Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another country, that has agreed to admit them. It offers a safe and legal route for longer term stability to refugees who cannot go home because of continued conflict and who cannot remain in the initial country where they have sought protection. In such circumstances, United Nations (UN) agencies and national governments work together to help resettle refugees to a third country.
“Refugee resettlement plays a key role in the global response to humanitarian crises: it saves lives and offers stability to refugees most in need of protection. Refugees are displaced by conflict, violence and persecution. They do not leave their countries out of choice. The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, and our resettlement schemes enable us to give the opportunity of a new start to those who have been forced to flee their homes.” Home Office March 2021.
How Dorset Council participates
We have so far welcomed 85 Syrian refugees, including 48 children (June 2021) as part of the national government’s resettlement schemes. The schemes are voluntary for local councils and we can decide the number and rate at which families arrive. We work closely with the Home Office who run the schemes, and offer a placement depending on the availability of private housing and local support services. We also make checks with local schools and healthcare provision before accepting a new family.
The first refugee families arrived in late 2016 under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Dorset Council has pledged to continue resettlement under a new global scheme for all nationalities that started in 2021. This is called the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS).
You can hear from a family, who resettled in a Dorset village, about their experiences in this BBC News article and video.
We also support Community Sponsorship in Dorset. This is a separate and additional route to the resettlement undertaken by local authorities. Under this scheme, it is members of the local community who are responsible for finding a property and delivering resettlement support to refugees; not local government officers or commissioned services. Local groups and charities can apply directly to the Home Office to resettle and sponsor a refugee family.
Find out about Community Sponsorship
Apply for community sponsorship on GOV.UK
Eligibility for refugee resettlement
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) identifies refugees who have fled their countries and who are most in need of longer-term protection such as women and children at risk, survivors of violence and torture, and those requiring medical treatment. The families undergo a registration process with security and medical checks, before being accepted for resettlement by the UK.
The Home Office works with the UNHCR and other UN agencies to offer resettlement in this country, and the families are flown directly to the UK where they are met by the local authority or a charity authorised to meet the families on arrival.
Before arrival, the families undergo cultural orientation sessions about life in the UK, and are provided with materials in their language to help them prepare for the customs and laws in this country.
Refugee families have been through great hardship and settling in a new country is a huge challenge. Families are entitled to privacy, so we will not make individual announcements about the timing and locations of resettlement.
Supporting refugee families in Dorset
The Home Office sets out the support requirements for refugee resettlement and funds a tapered support package over a five-year period. We fulfil these requirements by providing resettlement support via a combination of in-house caseworkers, commissioned services and local charities.
The focus is on providing the essentials to help refugee families rebuild their lives and adapt to life in the UK in the first year:
- welcome at the airport and transfer to accommodation
- affordable housing
- cultural and local area orientation
- school places for children
- registration with GP and other health services
- registration with the Job Centre
- English lessons and access to adult education
- interpreting services
- individual family support plans
- dedicated caseworker support and visits for the first 12 months
We work in partnership with many other organisations and also use resettlement funding to commission specialist or longer-term help for the local refugee families based on individual need. This includes advice on finance, benefits, employment, housing and immigration from the following:
- International Care Network (ICN)
- Citizens Advice Central Dorset
- International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
In Dorset, we arrange accommodation for new families arriving in private rented properties that the landlord has offered or agreed to rent to refugee families, and the families are responsible for paying rent through a tenancy agreement.
As refugees or residents with indefinite leave to remain, they are also entitled to all mainstream services including health, education and social care.
The impact of coronavirus
In March 2020, refugee resettlement was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and resumed on a limited basis in 2021. We plan to welcome more families to Dorset when it is safe and possible to do so.
During the pandemic, we provided each resettled family with a ‘lockdown giftpack’ including a donated laptop, children’s books and toys. Our caseworkers conducted regular welfare checks and worked throughout to ensure the families were kept safe and informed, and able to access services and online learning. We also continued visits in person when there was an essential need.
How resettlement is funded
The first 12 months of a refugee resettlement costs are fully funded by central government using the overseas aid budget. The Home Office then provides funds to local authorities to contribute to the costs of supporting refugees beyond their first year in the UK and this is reduced over time as the families are expected to become more independent.
The resettlement scheme ends after five years from date of arrival in the UK.
How you can help
In Dorset, many people have offered their support and positive messages for the refugees who have been through terrible experiences and we thank everyone for their offers of help.
At this time, we do not require any volunteers or donations.
How you can help
There are various organisations through which you can give help.
We are currently seeking privately rented accommodation in Weymouth and Dorchester to continue refugee resettlement and there are a number of benefits to becoming a landlord through this scheme. This includes arrangement of:
- rent secured for up to five years
- tenancy agreements
- family caseworker support
- and more
If you are interested or would like to find out more information, please complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact our Refugee Resettlement Officer.
Register your interest to provide housing for a refugee family
Complete our form to express your interest.