The people of Wrexham have been praised by refugee families who have had to relocate here, with no community tensions reported.
Eight Syrian refugee families have been rehoused in the Wrexham area as part of a Resettlement Scheme – with plans to “identify and welcome” a further two families by the end of the financial year.
The families were resettled in Wrexham as part of the Home Office-funded Syrian Relocation Scheme, which provided support to local authorities to find accommodation for refugees fleeing the country
In May 2016 members of the Executive Board unanimously gave their support to the scheme, approving plans to house five Syrian refugee families in Wrexham. A second report presented to the board later that year for a further five families, was also backed unanimously by councillors.
Background to the scheme is detailed in a fresh report due before the Executive Board next week, which states: “The number of individuals or families accepted onto the Scheme is decided locally. From a community cohesion perspective and based on our experience as a dispersal area it was felt that families would be easier to integrate than single people.
Councillors will likely approve plans next week that will see Wrexham accept, in principle, up to 5 further Syrian refugee families under the Home Office scheme during each of the next two financial years, 2018/19 and 19/20.
In contrast neighbouring Local Authorities have each welcomed three families, so far.
The report adds: “There are currently 36 persons in Wrexham under the Scheme. The remaining families, when identified, will ensure that the total number of Syrian refugees under the Scheme in Wrexham is consistent with the previously agreed upper limit of 50 people.
Funding for the scheme has been provided by the Home Office, which Wrexham Council say is “sufficient to cover all of the council’s costs in supporting refugees for a maximum period of five years following the date of each family’s arrival in the UK”.
The report continues onto list examples of some of the types of expenditure which the council has already incurred under the Scheme to date include:
– Up to 8 weeks void costs to secure properties before families arrive – Costs of furnishing properties
– Casework support;
– Education costs including Special Educational Needs [SEN];
– Language support
– Staffing costs to cover the administration of the Scheme.
It is also noted that “processes have been agreed locally to ensure that the council maximises the funding available to it under the Scheme with claims being submitted to the Home Office on a regular basis throughout the year.”
The report to Councillors notes that ‘Syrian refugee families in Wrexham have been very positive about their experiences’, stating ‘No community tensions associated with the Scheme have been reported’.
Some ‘learning points’ are noted, including that in future spacing out the arrival of families would help not to overwhelm any service with new arrivals.
The most heartwarming statements in the report are quotes taken from British Red Cross case notes in Wrexham from the 8 Syrian families living here:
“We are so grateful for the warm welcome we have received. We feel very safe here and I can begin to think about the future for my family now”
“We are very happy here as a family and are able to do most things independently”
“We feel our children have a good future here and we like our life in the UK”
“I am determined to learn English and find work. Now we have been here for almost 6 months and we see our future here being very good”
“I am learning about life here and I have been given the opportunity to go to college and learn English, I am very grateful for that”
“Everyone is very nice and helpful and I would like to help other families to resettle here in the future”
Lead Councillor Hugh Jones told us he felt it was “entirely positive and really good news”, adding “As a Council we are grateful for the support from the community, and are delighted they have been welcomed, supported and valued by the people of Wrexham.”