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Syrian refugee arrangements in Surrey

Surrey councils are joining up with health colleagues, voluntary and community groups and the faith sector to respond to Government plans to expand the Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

The partnership approach aims to ensure effective arrangements are in place once the Government has finalised the timetable and other details of its relocation programme.

It's important that the partners are able to coordinate efforts across housing, health, social care and education, and to provide community support to help Syrian arrivals adjust to their new circumstances.

You can find a wide range of information and advice on the Government website about the Syrian refugee situation and how you can help.

Frequently asked questions

When can we expect Syrian refugees to arrive?

So far, the Home Office has indicated two phases. It has a target of settling 1,000 refugees in Phase 1 (October to December 2015). A proportion of those will be in the south-east, although there is not yet a specific number identified for Surrey. Phase 2 begins in January 2016, but there are no further details about how long it will last or whether there will be further phases.

How many Syrian refugees will arrive in Surrey and where will they go?

We don't have those details yet. The Government has asked councils to indicate what they think would be a realistic number to be accommodated in their areas and what would need to be taken into account in determining who should go where. Councils across the UK are currently in discussion with the Home Office on these issues.

Will the refugees be housed in empty council properties or be allowed to jump housing waiting lists?

The councils are looking at possible options to house Syrian refugees. If you have a property to let for this purpose, you should contact your local borough or district council (you can find out how to do this by referring to: How do I offer a property to house refugees?). Council and housing association properties will only be made available if a refugee household meets the "eligibility and qualification" criteria of the Housing Allocations Schemes published by the local borough and district councils.

The Government advises the best way to help refugees is to donate cash to humanitarian organisations or charities who are already working with refugees. The information on the Government's website lists the main charities taking donations. For people offering clothes, bedding, books, toys and other items, the website suggests donating them to charity shops, including those run by the British Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam, which accept good quality items. The items themselves are not sent to refugees but the money raised from sales will be directed to helping refugees. More advice on donating funds or items can be found on the Government's website.

How do I offer a property to house refugees?

If you wish to express an interest in making a property available at some point for a refugee family, you should contact the housing service of your local borough or district council. You will need to provide the following details:

  • Property address being offered
  • How many bedrooms it has
  • When it might be available
  • How long it might be available for
  • What, if any, rent you are expecting to receive
  • Your contact details.

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What if I want to offer a room in my house to a refugee?

The Government has not asked people to come forward with offers of a spare bedroom. Instead it advises people who want to offer a spare room to contact one of the organisations operating projects to support vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees, such as the British Red Cross. You can call the Red Cross’s dedicated phone line on 0800 107 8727 for more information.

Who is paying for resettling the Syrian refugees?

The Government has announced funding for the first year of resettlement, and recognises the need for future financial arrangements so that the ongoing costs of relocating Syrian refugees does not fall unfairly on councils and local residents. It is working with the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils across England, on what those finance arrangements might be. The Home Office says they do not expect councils to take more refugees than they can cope with.

Can I help by fostering a Syrian child refugee?

The Government's relocation programme for Syrian refugees does not include unaccompanied children. They would arrive in family groups so the question of fostering does not arise in such cases. However, the council has an ongoing need for more foster carers across all groups of children who, for whatever reason, are unable to live with their parents or extended families. They include unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. To find out more about fostering in Surrey, please contact us on: 08000 96 96 26.

Where can I volunteer to help refugees?

The Government is advising people who want to find out how to volunteer to help refugees to contact one of the national charities and organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers across the UK. More information on these organisations is available on the Government's website. If you want to find out about local volunteering opportunities in Surrey to support refugees, please contact one of the local volunteer centres in the county.

Where can I find out more?

The Government's website details more information on what individuals and groups can do and contains information on the British Red Cross, which runs a dedicated phone line 0800 107 8727 to advise on what individuals and groups can do to help.

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