A year ago, I proposed that Shropshire Council set up a working party to examine how the council should react to the Syrian refugee crisis. Days later, the then prime minister David Cameron announced that Britain would take 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. The council’s cabinet agreed that Shropshire would take 60 Syrian refugees as its initial contribution towards the target.
We now have 33 Syrian refugees – “Syrian Salopians” as the Shropshire Star has named them – settled in Shropshire. We are now seeking homes for around 30 more over the next few months.
Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome: “Syrian Salopians” are settling in Shropshire – we are seeking housing in Ludlow”
Shropshire Council is currently seeking a provider to support refugee families under the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme. Our county has only limited experience in taking in refugees. A working party of councillors and officers from the council, health, and police and fire services has been meeting to ensure that that we have the necessary support in place.
I have been impressed by the methodical and careful way the working party has considered all the issues. Lessons have also been learnt from other councils. Accommodation is now being sought and ten families are expected to be resettled in the north of the county in coming weeks.
Continue reading “An update on #RefugeesWelcome in Shropshire”
Ludlow’s Mayor Paul Draper and myself are hosting a public meeting to discuss what our community can do to help refugees during the current crisis.
Please come along to talk about what you are doing and how you might be able to help.
The meeting is at 7.00pm for 7.30pm at the Feathers Hotel this coming Thursday, 1 October.
Donations on their way to CALAID
Photos by Nicola North who is collecting locally for CALAID along with Clare Whitehead. The children’s clothes shop Smartie has been a drop off point. South Shropshire Furniture Scheme lent a driver and a van. Other donations have been made through Ludlow’s churches. Nicola tells me that collecting has finished for CALAID, and is now for Kos Kindness, Leros Kindness and Mercy Worldwide who have links to the major camps in the Greek Islands and the Middle East.
Unfortunately, a scheduled debate at Shropshire Council on the refugee crisis was pulled at the last moment on Thursday. I am still very upset about this.
Three weeks ago, the Lib Dem group put a motion forward for a meeting of the full council. It called for the council to lobby the government and local MPs to get more action at a national level to ease the plight of the refugees. It also asked Shropshire Council to set up a non-political working group on how Shropshire can react to the crisis by accepting refugees.
By the time of the meeting, everything had moved on. Days after we submitted our motion, David Cameron had agreed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. Keith Barrow, leader of Shropshire Council, had announced a working party. After the first meeting of that working party, the Lib Dem group issued a revised motion that simply called for the council to make a proportional response to the refugee crisis, along with communities and other bodies in the county.
Unfortunately, Conservative cabinet member Claire Wild had submitted an alternative motion, which did nothing other than praise the leader for his work in setting up a working party and allocating an officer. Despite efforts on the sidelines of the meeting, she could not be persuaded to withdraw it.
Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome: The Shropshire Council (non) debate last Thursday leaves me saddened”
The response to my last newsletter and online posts on the refugee crisis has been overwhelming positive. Most people want Shropshire and Ludlow to provide a safe haven for refugees.
There have of course been those that do not agree. They say we should look after ourselves before others. They say the refugee crisis is a problem for other countries, not ours. These people I can number on one hand.
Many more people want to help and are already helping. It has been is a heartfelt and encouraging reaction. Across Ludlow, Shropshire and the entire country people are organising collections, offering accommodation and suggesting ways they can support refugees. Shropshire Council has set up a working party to look at what it can do.
No one is suggesting that a large number of refugees should arrive in our county. We have been talking about maybe ten families, though I think we could take more. Ten families will increase the number households in Shropshire by 0.00008%. It is just a one in thirteen thousand increase in households. To put this statistic in perspective, we have around 1,500 long-term empty homes in Shropshire.
#RefugeesWelcome meeting: 1 October. A public meeting to discuss what our town can do help in the refugee crisis. Chaired by Ludlow’s mayor, Paul Draper, and myself. Open to all: 7.00 for 7.30pm at the Feathers Hotel. It’s an open session to discuss what we can all do to help during this crisis and any that follow. Continue reading “We are a #RefugeesWelcome town and county – update on the refugee crisis”