Council helps Syrian refugees make Cheshire West their home
19 June 2019The Council has, in the last two years, successfully offered safety and shelter to 20 families who have fled the ongoing civil war in Syria.
The Syrian Resettlement Programme, which is run alongside Council partners forfutures and CHAWREC (Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race and Equality Centre), has been successful in resettling Syrian refugees in a new country and culture. One more family is due to arrive this summer.
The programme was set up in Cheshire West so the borough could play its part in helping the Government meet its commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK, funded by the UK’s oversees aid budget.
Refugees from Syria are provided with accommodation, a basic furniture package, English lessons and support to settle into their community. Homes have been provided to the families by local housing associations, as well as by the Council.
Refugees are entitled to access local services, and a package of support. Council staff are working closely with the local voluntary, community and faith sectors to access further support for the refugees.
As the world marks Refugee Week, 17-21 June, one family who are thankful for the support they have received in our borough is Samir Altellawi, his wife Yisir Alakhwan and their son Ahmad.
Samir said: “We arrived in the UK in July 2018 from a refugee camp in Lebanon. Before we came, I was concerned about the new life, scared of the unknown, and living in a country where I cannot speak the language or understand the culture.
“Nearly a year, me and my family are living in Ellesmere Port. I believe that no place is like home. However, the way we were treated made us feel at home here.
“I am so proud that my son is doing well at school and all the staff in school are helpful and respectful to us. Ever since we were resettled in Ellesmere Port, we feel well supported by the Council and forfutures and all the various other agencies that are supporting our journey of integration.
“We are particularly happy with the medical care provided to us and the local job centre staff are patient and helpful. Many thanks to the English teachers, who are helping improve our English. As a Muslim family, we did not experience racism and we feel accepted by the community.”
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, said: “The emotional and mental strain of fleeing a war zone is hard enough in itself but then these people have had to resettle in a new environment with a culture which feels different to what they are used to. Many have suffered trauma and bereavement, and sadly they are often met with suspicion and prejudice as they attempt to find a safe place to call home.
“The fact that they have begun to make our borough their home and feel more settled than when they first arrived is credit to the work of the Council and our partners.
“We could not have achieved as much as we have done for these vulnerable families without the help and generosity of partners, local residents and volunteers and we would like to express our grateful thanks for their continued support.”
Different activities and events have been organised in the borough in support of Refugee Week. All Cheshire west and Chester’s refugee families attended a training event in Chester on 17 June, which explained how the UK perceives safeguarding and the differences with other cultures.
The Council partnered with DWP on 20 June to host an event in Chester to introduce Syrian families to organisations which run employment, educational and training services. They will be able to offer the families language skills, voluntary work and even possible paid employment.
Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.