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Supporting Syrian refugees in Derbyshire

Derbyshire councils, health colleagues, voluntary and community groups and other agencies have agreed to support the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement scheme (VPR) up to April 2020.

The Derbyshire partnership was formed in September 2016 in response to a government appeal to support its national scheme and over the following year resettled 48 refugees in small family groups. In November 2017 the partnership agreed to resettle up to 50 more refugees before April 2019 in response to the government’s ongoing call for help.

In January 2018 the partnership agreed to resettle up to a further 30 refugees before April 2020.

Around 20,000 Syrians will be resettled across the UK between 2016 and 2020 and along with other local authorities we, working with other local councils and partnership agencies, were asked by the government to offer them a home.

Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:

"The government asked us to support its resettlement scheme in 2016 which we did by forming the Derbyshire partnership and we’ve agreed to continue this approach in response to the ongoing national requirement.

"From the work carried out over the first few years of the scheme and the lessons we've learned about family needs, the partnership will offer continued support to resettle up to 30 more Syrian refugees in small family groups up to April 2019.

"As with the current scheme this is subject to the partnership taking into account the availability of local services.

"Many other UK councils are supporting the government's refugee settlement scheme and like them, we're keen to do what we can to help people who are suffering every day in ways we cannot imagine."

Number of Syrian refugees coming to Derbyshire and when

The Derbyshire partnership resettled 48 refugees in 11 families in the 12 months up to November 2017. A further 41 refugees in 10 families were welcomed between November 2017 and April 2019. The partnership has pledged to welcome up to a further 30 refugees in small family groups before April 2020.

Where the refugees will live

Seven Derbyshire district and borough councils have agreed to consider resettling refugee families. They'll be housed in areas with the greatest number of available social rented properties and we’re working closely with housing providers to find suitable accommodation.

Where the refugees come from and who they are

Refugees will be taken directly from camps in the countries neighbouring Syria through a controlled form process via the Home Office and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Priority is being given to people who can't continue to live safely in their own country. These include women, children and young people at risk, people in severe need of medical care, survivors of torture and violence, refugees with medical needs or disabilities and people at risk due to their sexual orientation.

Cost of relocation scheme and who will pay for it

The government has approved funding for five years. After this time it anticipates their support requirements will be minimal.

Health and education services will receive their funding directly from the government.

Jobs and benefits

Refugees will be granted a five-year humanitarian protection or refugee status visa. This will allow them to apply for jobs and any welfare benefits they may be entitled to in the same way as other Derbyshire residents.

GPs, dentists and school places

Our refugees will be granted a five-year humanitarian protection or refugee status visa which entitles them to the same health and educational benefits as other Derbyshire residents.

Looking after the refugees when they arrive

Due to the vulnerable nature of people who need resettling and the complex nature of the issues they will face we've created two officer posts to support the coordination of the resettlement scheme. These will be paid for by Government funding.

We've also commissioned a support service to work with the refugees on a day-to-day basis to help them settle and integrate into their new community. This will also be met by government funding.

Unaccompanied and asylum seeking refugee children

We've agreed to welcome a small number of unaccompanied and asylum seeking refugee children (UASC) to Derbyshire in line with the government's National Transfer scheme.

The scheme started in July 2016 and is designed to ensure an equal distribution of UASC across the country from areas including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Distribution is based on each local authority taking up to 0.07% of its total child population unless they have the resources to offer more.

If the transfer scheme progresses as the Home Office anticipates and Derbyshire is required by the government to reach its full 0.07% threshold it could mean up to 97 asylum seeking children being accommodated in the county.

These will come either from other local councils which have a high number of UASC or possibly from camps abroad in the future.

Health and security checks

Derbyshire’s 5 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will lead on health issues for the refugee relocation programme.

This will involve ensuring refugees have access to local health services and have undergone checks including immunisations and screening for infectious diseases.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) carries out a series of checks, including a robust identification process, before referring a refugee to the resettlement scheme.

The Home Office carries out further screening, including medical and security checks, before entry to the UK.

The Home Office has the right to reject potential refugees on security, war crime or other grounds.

By the time a UNHCR-referred refugee arrives in the UK they have been through a 2-stage vetting process so the government has a clear record of who is entering the country.

Find out more in the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement fact sheet.

How long refugees will stay in Derbyshire

Refugees will have the right to apply to stay permanently in the UK after 5 years if they choose to do so.

You can help

Many charities and organisations are to provide help and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. These include:

Volunteering to help refugees

Several charities and organisations are working with refugees across the UK. To find out more about volunteering opportunities in your area visit the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

You could also contact the Refugee Council, the British Red Cross or Refugee Action to find out more about volunteering to support asylum seekers and refugees already in the UK.

You can also offer help via the British Red Cross information line tel: 0800 107 8727.

Offering a property

If you’re a landlord who would like to offer accommodation please contact your housing authority which is your local district or borough council.