Guidance and information relating to the Syrian refugee crisis and how you can help.
The Government has declared that it will expand the existing Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme and intends to resettle 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament.
On 20 October 2015, MVDC resolved to participate in the Home Office's Vulnerable Persons Relocation programme for Syrian refugees, assisting up to 25 households over a 5 year period (5 per year). We will do this in partnership with Surrey County Council, appropriate Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the voluntary and faith sectors. Any household assisted under the VPR Scheme will not jump the queue for social housing.
How you can help
- contact local charities and volunteer organisations
- log on to the GOV.UK website for information
- call the British Red Cross Crisis Helpline 0800 107 8727
If you decide that you would like to make a charitable donation, please be aware of the Charity Commission's guidance on giving safely to refugee appeals.
Frequently asked questions
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Will the refugees be housed in empty council properties or be allowed to jump housing waiting lists?
The intention is to look for homes in the private rented sector to house Syrian refugees. If you have a property to let for this purpose, please contact us. Council and housing association properties will only be made available if a refugee household meets the "eligibility and qualification" criteria of our Housing Allocations Scheme.
4. How do I donate cash or other items to refugees?
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 GOV.UK 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 GOV.UK website.
5. 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 team by email or call 01306 885001. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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, Surrey 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, visit surreycc.gov.uk/fosteringandadoption, tel: 08000 96 96 26.
9. 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 GOV.UK 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.
10. Where can I find out more?
The GOV.UK website provides 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.