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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice

Refugee resettlement

Refugee Resettlement in Dorset

Dorset Council has pledged to resettle approximately 100 Syrian refugees as part of the UK government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). Millions of refugees have fled their homes due to the civil war in Syria and the UK government committed to accept 20,000 refugees in this country by the end of 2020. Locally, this is known as the Syrian Resettlement Programme.

Who are the refugees?

The scheme focuses on people who have fled Syria because of the current conflict, sought refuge in the countries around Syria and are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR identifies individuals and families who are most in need of protection such as women and children at risk, survivors of violence and torture, and those with medical needs. Most of these families are Syrian however the scheme is open to all nationalities who had to flee Syria because of the conflict.

The UK government carries out security screening before deciding whether to accept a family and they are given a full medical check-up before they travel to the UK.

Under the government scheme, those families accepted for resettlement will be flown directly from the countries bordering Syria to England and they are granted refugee status in the UK. This gives all family members the right to work and to use public services.

The current position in Dorset

As of March 2020, Dorset has welcomed 82 individuals including 45 children in ten different locations across the county. Under resettlement, families are entitled to tapered support over a five-year programme to help them rebuild their lives. Dorset Council provides this support via a combination of caseworkers, commissioned services and local community volunteers.  

We are there for them from the minute they step off the plane. Working with partner agencies and community groups, we ensure they have a warm welcome and a home in which to begin their new lives. We support them to learn English, understand local customs, and access healthcare and education. And we help them to meet local people and gain independence.

Councils volunteer to participate in resettlement and can control the rate at which families arrive. In Dorset, we house families in private rented properties that the landlord has offered or agreed to rent to refugee families. Refugee families do not get any preferential treatment for housing.

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.

In March 2020, all refugee resettlement was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. We hope to continue to welcome refugee families to Dorset when it is safe and possible to do so.

New global resettlement scheme for most vulnerable refugees

In June 2019, the government announced an ongoing global resettlement scheme for most vulnerable refugees from all regions. The UK plans to resettle in the region of 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees in the first year of the new scheme, once the Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme concludes in 2020. As before, councils can volunteer to participate in the new scheme and control the rate at which families arrive.

How is resettlement funded?

The first 12 months of a refugee's 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 become more independent. The resettlement programme ends after five years from date of arrival in the UK.

How you can help

The government recommends various organisations through which you can give 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. If you wish to volunteer for the local programme, please check any vacancies at The Volunteer Centre.

We will be seeking privately rented accommodation for Syrian refugee families when resettlement continues. There are a number of benefits to becoming a landlord through this programme including secure rent for up to five years, tenancy agreements and inventories arranged, all contact with the families is through a caseworker and many more benefits. 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. 

Register your interest to provide housing for a Syrian family

 

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