Council will continue supporting refugees fleeing violence and persecution

18 June 2020

The Council has pledged to continue welcoming people escaping war zones and persecution, following the success of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.

More than 20 Syrian families have begun new lives in our borough in recent years, after the Council worked with housing providers, forfutures, the Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race & Equality Centre (CHAWREC) and other key partners to welcome and help them adapt to a new culture in this country.

The programme ended on 31 March 2020 and a new resettlement scheme to welcome anyone fleeing violence or persecution from other countries was due to launch on 1 April, before it was postponed at the start of the pandemic. 

Once lockdown ends, the Council will continue to welcome and support people like Falak who has spoken during National Refugee Week 2020 about her new life in west Cheshire. 

Falak said: “I love volunteering because I want to support a good cause especially with Claire House and what they do to help children in need. When we came to the UK we were supported and now I want to give back and help other people.

“The team I work with are extremely helpful, they taught me how to use the till and they help me read and write. They support me and give me strength.  When I volunteer I feel happy and comfortable. My English has improved a lot since I started volunteering and it gives me hope and strength to keep going with my life.”

Another person who has resettled here is Midia, who crossed the border from Syria feeling ‘terrified’ for her life after she was forced to escape.

She said: “Then I lived in the refugee camp in a neighbouring country for about four years. The camp was the place where no one wants to be, we suffered from a lack of basic necessities. We couldn’t have a shower for weeks due to not having water. We had to sit in total darkness due to not having electricity.

“I didn’t lose hope. I was accepted for resettlement in the UK and a new chapter started. I am working hard to understand my new life and learn the new language. I live with the hope that one day I will see my family again, but for now we keep in touch using video calls which is not the same.”

Julia Nundy, operations manager for Sanctuary Housing which is a key partner in the resettlement scheme, said: “Our social purpose is to provide homes for those who need them and we’re proud to play an active role supporting the refugee resettlement programme in Cheshire.

“We believe everyone should have a safe place to live. The programme has made a real difference for these families, helping them to settle in our communities and begin new lives.”

Janet Lawton, Strategic Lead at ForHousing, said: “Our aim is to help improve the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“As part of the refugee resettlement programme, we are able to help people from Syria into safe, secure housing and provide support to enable them to build a more positive future after going through such difficult, often harrowing, experiences.”

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth, said: “Following our experiences with the resettlement programme, the Council and its partners have become well equipped to help refugees to integrate into our community, such as offering housing, employment, financial and language support.

“It is wonderful that Syrian people are feeling happier and more settled. It is important that we are able to continue to provide refuge for people facing persecution around the world.

“I would also like to put on record my thanks to the residents who have been working closely with our services to support refugees and advocate on their behalf and reaffirm my commitment to work with these groups in their bid for Chester to become an official City of Sanctuary in the future.”

To read other inspiring stories telling the experiences of refugees who have begun new lives in our borough, visit the Council's website.

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