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.
In June 2019, the UK government announced a new global scheme for the world’s most vulnerable refugees, once VPRS ends in 2020. Dorset Council has pledged to continue welcoming refugees under this scheme, the launch of which has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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 local charities, we ensure they have a warm welcome and a home in which to begin their new lives. A caseworker is assigned to every resettled family who maintains close contact with the family for the first 12 months to support their well-being and integration. We support them to learn English, understand local customs, and access healthcare, education and other essential services with the aim to live independently in the UK.
Councils volunteer to participate in resettlement and can control the rate at which families arrive. In Dorset, we provide 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 required to pay rent through a tenancy agreement.
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.
The impact of coronavirus
In March 2020, refugee resettlement was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. We hope to continue to welcome more refugee families to Dorset when it is safe and possible to do so. Our support for the families already settled here continues with the additional challenges the pandemic has caused.
How is resettlement 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 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. At this time, we are not seeking any volunteers or donations.
We will be seeking privately rented accommodation in Weymouth and Dorchester 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, 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.
Register your interest to provide housing for a Syrian family