Published on 29th October 2020
More than thirty Syrian families have been successfully housed in Cheltenham since 2015, which equates to 122 refugees to date
Cheltenham Borough Council has supported the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for the past five years.
Support is provided from a range of local organisations; GARAS (Gloucestershire action for refugees and asylum seekers) and Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees have been instrumental in providing support to these families.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service co-ordinate and manage the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme across the county and work closely with a range of partners to ensure people’s needs are fully met. Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service have recently announced that they will be going out to tender to secure support services for the next three years to enable this important work to continue.
Adele Owen director from GARAS said: "In 2015, GARAS was delighted to become a countywide organisation. The suffering of refugees fleeing troubles and making the dangerous crossings were clear to see. In particular, we were becoming more and more aware of the terrible suffering of the Syrian refugees seeking safety beyond their own borders.
‘’Thanks to the support of districts across Gloucestershire to house refugees, GARAS was preparing to welcome its first refugees on the Resettlement Scheme.
‘’Cheltenham has remained in the forefront of this and GARAS has been delighted to work with the Borough Council and Cheltenham Borough Homes to make a significant difference and to provide a warm welcome.
‘’The numbers are small in world terms, but for each family and individual there is a story and individual experience of the horror they experienced and had to leave behind. It's not always easy to settle in a new land and a new culture, but, with the support of voluntary groups and in particular Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees and Cheltenham Volunteer Teachers, many families are able to rebuild their lives and start again.
‘’There have been new lives welcomed into families and communities, and successes for those finding employment, or accessing studies and extending their English skills, but this is tinged with sadness for those who have lost loved ones and those whose health is not so robust.
‘’This means the work of resettlement is complex recognising the breadth of needs and it is a huge privilege to see this grow and develop.
‘’We are sad that Coronavirus has stopped families arrive this year, but we really hope this can restart as soon as possible. And in the meantime we want to continue to work together to provide the best support in such challenging times."
Councillor Peter Jeffries, Cheltenham Borough Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing added: ‘‘I would like to thank the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue service for co-ordinating this support and I express my thanks to all partners, including GARAS and Cheltenham Welcome Refugees, in supporting families as they settle into their lives here in Cheltenham. Naturally the pandemic has affected the level of support that we can offer to families but we are hopeful that we can continue to work in partnership to help these families in need as we move forward.’’
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