Refugee families 'settling in well' in Uttlesford communities

PUBLISHED: 08:08 24 October 2019

Uttlesford District Council's offices in Saffron Walden

Uttlesford District Council's offices in Saffron Walden

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Five refugee families have been housed by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) since October 2017, as part of a resettlement programme.

Speaking at the UDC meeting on October 8, Councillor Mark Lemon hailed the resettlement scheme as "a great success".

He said: "They [the families] have settled in well. They have fallen in with the community. The community have been brilliant. It is working.

"When you look at the pictures of the children in Syria, I almost cry when I see how happy they are for the small things that we are doing for them. It's a super thing to do."

All five families have been provided accommodation by UDC in three-bedroom flats across the district.

Councillor Petrina Lees, deputy leader of Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), explained the reason behind this: "We have had quite a few three-bedroom flats in our stock recently. They're not very popular with people on the housing waiting list. So, they've [the families] been housed in there.

"Essex Integration get the property carpeted and furnished ready for the families' arrival. Then, they provide support to the families for the first year of them being here."

Essex Integration is a "non-profit organisation that provides essential support services to newly arriving refugees and migrants", according to its website.

Discussing the possibility of future refugee resettlements, Cllr Lees said: "We have also committed to the programme that we would take some more [refugees].

"The Government have asked Essex to take 50 families. That's really one family per council in Essex if we can do that. We [UDC] will probably take more if we can. We have a programme in place [to do so]."

Some 17,051 people have been resettled in the UK under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) since it began in 2014, Government figures show. More than 300 local authorities have participated in the programme.

In June, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, pledged that the Government would commit to resettling a further 5,000 refugees in the UK under a new resettlement scheme beginning in 2020.

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