Oxford City council is proposing to extend involvement with the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, Vulnerable Childrens Relocation Scheme and to approve involvement in Community Sponsorship.
The measures which will be discussed at the Council’s City Executive Board (CEB) meeting on Wednesday 20 December would see a further 10 refugee families accommodated in Oxford by the end of 2018.
All costs for the scheme have been met through Home Office funding and this will continue to be the case for the life of the scheme.
The schemes aim to help the most vulnerable refugees who have been assessed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as suitable for resettlement against certain criteria. These include those who have urgent health needs, women and children at risk and survivors of violence and torture.
Community Sponsorship involves a new or existing community group coming together to provide all the support a refugee family needs.
The schemes aim to:
- Link refugees to local education, support, and health services through the support of our support partners.
- Fund those involved in the scheme for five years from Central Government funding with a gradual decrease year on year until they are able to achieve independence.
- House families in private rented accommodation.
- Help refugees access English language classes and employment advice so that they can build on their existing skills to fully integrate into life in the UK.
The proposals follow the agreement in December 2015 to accommodate ten families, and a decision agreed in mid-2016 to accommodate a further ten households between September 2016 and August 2017. The scheme has successfully relocated 20 vulnerable refugee families; this includes 43 adults and 45 children.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “The public support for this programme has been massive and I am pleased that we have been able to meet the targets that we set for ourselves back in 2015 for helping families who have suffered badly from violence and deprivation in their home cities and were compelled to flee to the refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
“Council staff have worked throughout in close cooperation with colleagues from our local charities, Asylum Welcome and Connection Support and over two years we have assisted 20 families to relocate in Oxford and start to rebuild their lives. Every one of the families who have been supported through the scheme have said that they were very satisfied’ with the programme. We are now in the fortunate position of being able to offer to assist more families who are at need and give them, and their families, a lifeline to live in safety and to receive education and re-establish themselves in jobs.”
Kate Smart, Director of Asylum Welcome said: “Oxford people from all walks of life have worked together to welcome 20 refugee families and will do a good job of welcoming 10 more in 2018. Grateful to return this kindness, the refugees are working hard to learn English, find jobs and become good neighbours.”
The proposals will be discussed at City Executive Board meeting on Wednesday 20 December.