Herefordshire Council is actively working with Herefordshire’s varied communities and strategic partners to prepare the best local response to support Syrian refugees.
The council is part of the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership, a group formed from local government, Home Office, national government, statutory, voluntary and community and private sectors to help support asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants.
Ahead of this year’s International Day of Peace, which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society working together to strive for peace, Herefordshire Council’s director for adults and wellbeing, Martin Samuels, said:
“Herefordshire Council is co-ordinating a response to support refugees from Syria in a joined-up way, as this is an international problem that has many aspects. Understandably, the people of Herefordshire want to show their compassion and we have had offers of accommodation and support to refugees. We are keen to make sure there are suitable provisions made for both the local community and the relocated families, however the government is not currently anticipating the need to accommodate Syrian refugees in people's houses.
“With limited resource and available facilities, the council has been asked by the Home Office to consider how it could support a small number of refugee families from Syria, should they be placed in the county. There will be a clear need for social housing, alongside access to education, social care and health services. Officers are working across our departments to determine how best to meet refugee families’ needs, in addition to continuing the council’s work to support residents and protect the vulnerable across Herefordshire.
“It is not expected that the arrival of refugees will impact on the availability of services to Herefordshire residents. We do, however, already have a huge need for more foster carers in the county, so that children can be matched with families who best reflect the child's background and culture and be placed near to their own families, schools and communities. For those who feel they might be able to offer support, please visit www.herefordshire.gov.uk/fostering.
“We await further clarification on the needs and available support from central government, and indeed if we are to expect refugees to arrive in the county. Until we know the full extent of the Home Office’s plan, we are in a preparatory phase. I would encourage residents to support the established regional and national responses, which have been set up to provide the most effective and sustainable way of helping families who have been displaced. In collaboration with Her Majesty’s Government, the British Red Cross has set up a helpline for anyone who wants advice on the ways in which they can be of assistance to Syrians in need of protection in the UK. People can call The British Red Cross Crisis Helpline on 0800 107 8727 for more information. ”