07 October 2016
Devon’s doing its bit in Government resettlement programmes
Devon is doing its bit to help resettle Syrian families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum, according to a report to Devon County Councillors this week.
The Council has a coordinating role in a partnership of local authorities, including Devon’s City and District Councils, Police, the NHS, and voluntary and community sector partners, in responding to the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.
The Government-funded programme aims to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by 2020.
Devon’s District Councils, which are responsible for housing, have pledged to accommodate at least 74 families, and the first few families have already arrived and are now resettled.
The partnership is helping families to settle in and lead independent, safe and productive lives.
Families are housed in private rented properties that landlords have offered or agreed to rent to refugee families, so there’s no impact on people awaiting council housing.
Landlords with property available can get in touch via the website.
Under a different scheme, Devon County Council also aims to look after at least 25 unaccompanied asylum seeking children by the end of March 2017 as part of a national scheme.
Most of the young people are male teenagers, aged 15 to 17 years old, and from a range of countries across the Middle East and East Africa.
The Council is working with existing and potential foster carers, as well as specialist organisations that have relevant experience and capacity to help.
It’s asking anyone who thinks that they can offer an unaccompanied child a home to contact the Council’s Fostering enquiry line on 0345 155 1077, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council also wants to increase the number of host families in its Devon Young People’s Accommodation Service (DYPAS), which provides safe environments for vulnerable young people aged 16 plus, helping them to develop independent living skills as they move into adulthood.
And it’s strengthening the knowledge and skills of its own staff in specific areas of expertise relevant to unaccompanied children, such as age assessment and understanding of asylum processes.
The Leader of Devon County Council, Cllr John Hart, said:
“Devon is doing its bit to support Syrian families and young unaccompanied people seeking asylum. Working alongside our partners, we are able and keen to help give people new starts and new opportunities for better lives, free of fear or persecution. It is important that we do our very best to provide the support so very much needed at this time.”
Councillor Alan Connett, Leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, said:
“It hard to imagine the horrors of war on your doorstep and the fear it must strike, let alone the pain of loss and being separated from family.
“I am pleased that Devon is helping and that the county council will support 25 asylum seeking children.”
Councillor Richard Westlake, Leader of the Council’s Labour group, said:
“I fully support the County council and District councils working together to coordinate a planned response to the refuge crisis for Syrian refuges and unaccompanied children. Urgent action need to be taken to safeguard venerable children who have fled from the war in Syria.”
Councillor Frank Biederman, Leader of the Council’s Independent Group, said:
“I am delighted Councils in Devon has got systems in place to help Syrian families and urge people interested in fostering the Syrian or the children in our own care system to get hold of the council.”