More Syrian refugees have arrived in Staffordshire, as part of a pledge by the county council to accommodate families under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme (VPS).
A total of seven families have been placed in Lichfield district, the Moorlands and East Staffordshire, and are now settling into their new homes.
The arrivals come after months of work by Staffordshire County Council, district and borough councils and charity Refugee Action to ensure the county has everything in place for the arrival of refugees.
This includes providing a safe and secure environment with access to adequate medical provision, suitable housing, and school places, if needed.
Following the successful resettlement of 51 Syrians in Staffordshire in 2016/17, the county council agreed last year to take another 50, all in family groups.
The people coming to the UK from Syria are fleeing a violent civil war that has meant the country’s infrastructure, healthcare, education and economy has been virtually destroyed.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This programme is about helping those refugees in the greatest need, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of torture and women and children who are most at risk. As a county, we are doing all that we can to help.
“We have had some great support from our district and borough councils, and have been working with them and Refugee Action over the past few months. There have been a great deal of logistical details to sort out prior to their arrival, and we are only taking those we know we can safely and readily accommodate.
“We hope that these people, who are most at risk and cannot be supported in their own country, are able to rebuild their lives and are able to integrate with local communities in the area.”
Faye Jeffery, West Midlands resettlement manager at Refugee Action, says: “We’re delighted to be continuing our work with the council and other local partners to welcome more Syrian refugees to Staffordshire.
“Our caseworkers and volunteers meet the families at the airport and take them to their new homes, where they receive a care package of essentials such as tea, bread, milk and nappies.
“We provide integration support to ensure the families have access to English language lessons, health and education services, so they can start to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities.”
Councillor Doug Pullen, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, Housing & Wellbeing at Lichfield District Council, said: “We know Lichfield District communities are keen to welcome these families who are fleeing war and persecution. Key partners are working together to help the families settle into their new homes, and we hope they will enjoy living in Lichfield and find peace and happiness here.”
The Syrian VPS prioritises those who are most at risk and cannot be supported in their own country. The Home Office checks their eligibility to meet the criteria of the scheme, conducts thorough security checks and works with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to ensure that a full medical assessment is conducted prior to arrival in the UK.
Over the coming weeks the county council will continue to work with the Home Office Refugee Resettlement Team, borough and district councils, housing providers, police, fire, public health and Refugee Action to prepare for further arrivals.