THERE are unfortunately a number of misconceptions about the desire of a group of Malvern residents to welcome families to the area via the Government's Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme.
As a member of the steering committee I would like to make the following points:
1. The initiative is centrally funded for the first year. It is not coming out of local budgets, but from a separate pot put aside to support the scheme.
In pilot areas 90 per cent or more of the applicants have been self-funding after the first year.
We are seeking assurances from the Government via our MP that in individual cases of significant need central funding after the first year would be possible.
2. The aim is to provide the majority of the housing via private landlords. This has proved the most efficient method in areas that have piloted the scheme. The list for social housing would be unaffected.
3. The intention is to take small numbers families at a time. They would not arrive all together, thereby making it easier to provide support and integrate effectively.
4. In order to qualify for the scheme and meet the Government's own criteria, the applicants will have to be assessed as the most vulnerable of the vulnerable Syrian people awaiting in the UN refugee camps.
No other Syrian refugees are being offered resettlement in the UK other than via this programme.
It is therefore highly ironic for Malvern Hills District Council to say it cannot support this initiative as the people are deemed 'vulnerable’ and may have specific additional needs.
Yes, some of them will have because they have to have in order to be selected in the first place!
In response to this issue we have built and secured significant support from individuals and organisations to meet the additional needs we may encounter – translation, language education, counselling and therapy etc. via the voluntary sector.
We will continue to robustly seek private support and sponsorship.
5. Compassion makes us human. Malvern in the past has offered a welcome to refugees from various cultures successfully.
I and other members of the steering committee also work hard to support local and UK-based charities, however compassion is not bound by borders and it does not mean we should not also support a very few of the most vulnerable and displaced people in the world and welcome them into our wonderful community.
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Please note I am writing as an individual member of the steering committee and am not representing any other organisation.