More than a million Syrian migrants fleeing war and terror, entered Europe in 2015. According to UNHCR figures, numbers crossing the mediterranean are up 630% on the first quarter of last year. Some have already reached UK shores and claimed asylum. It is reasonable to expect that many more will.
But there’s a problem…
Although the UK Government has pledged to help 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years (2015-2020), these will be from amongst the most fragile and vulnerable and will be selected by UNHCR from the war zone and surrounding camps.
There are thousands of other Syrian refugees who will try and reach the UK and regardless of our closed borders, many will succeed and claim asylum. They will be placed in temporary accommodation while their case is decided and once they receive their ‘refugee’ status giving them a leave to remain for five years, they will be given 28 days to vacate the accommodation and those without children are left to their own devices to find somewhere to stay. The next step is to approach local councils looking for social housing, only to be told that there is none or the waiting lists are excruciatingly long. Private landlords in many cases, don’t want to know and the only alternatives are friend’s sofas, homeless hostels, local mosques or the streets.
That’s where we come in…
There are many people in the UK who have space in their homes (and hearts) and can accommodate one or two people for a few months. For some, there is also a deep-seated need to do ‘something’ to help Syrian refugees.
Homes for Syrians matches those spaces in UK homes with Syrian refugees who have been granted a leave to remain in the UK but have no immediate access to accommodation. The accommodation is offered completely free of charge, usually includes food and is for up to six months. Our approach gives Syrian refugees the opportunity to integrate and acclimatise to life in the UK whilst improving their English, applying for courses and finding jobs. The transformation we have seen in some of the people we have placed has been truly remarkable.
The project was originally set up by our founder Richard Moore in September 2015 but within six months, it became clear that it could not continue to be run single-handedly and should be set up as a charity, with proper Governance and trained caseworkers. A group of existing hosts and a voluntary sector professional agreed to become Trustees and form a Charity and an application to form a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) was made to the Charity Commission on 6th March 2016.
Homes for Syrians was granted UK Charity status on 7th June 2016.
Considering the sheer numbers of Syrian refugees moving across Europe over the past year, we are quite sure that the UK will see increased numbers making their way to our shores and claiming Asylum. At the moment we are receiving several requests every day but we need to build up our capability so that we are prepared for the future demand.
Our aim is to build up a team of 8 remote caseworkers covering the UK with a target of helping 2000 Syrian refugees per year. The caseworkers’ primary roles will be to make home visits and assess the hosts and proposed living conditions, record background information, discuss risks and safeguarding and ensure that the host is best equipped to assist a refugee. They will also follow up host references, propose potential guests and liaise before, during and after the stay, recording all data through our Contact Relationship Manager (CRM). These caseworkers will be trained and supported by a lead caseworker who will assess the refugees, record their background information and ultimately approve the matches.
To achieve this will take considerable time and effort. If you can help with hosting, volunteering or donations, please do!
We are all in this together – make a difference and contact them now