We are a #RefugeesWelcome town and county – update on the refugee crisis

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.[1] To put this statistic in perspective, we have around 1,500 long-term empty homes in Shropshire.

Ludlow action

#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.

Donations. Claire and Peter Whitehead on Julian Road, and Nicola North at Sheet Farm are currently collecting for CALAID. Please donate clothing, sleeping bags, etc. Further details… If anyone else is collecting for refugees and wants me to publicise it, just drop me a line at andy@andybodders.co.uk.

Shropshire Council action

After calls for action from across the county, the cabinet met in private session on 9 September to discuss its reaction to the refugee crisis. Following the meeting, the council issued a statement saying that it will “work and collaborate with our communities and other local authorities in order to secure the best solutions and outcomes for refugees.”

The council has since set up a working party to look at how the county should react to the emergency. This is the first action we called for in a motion to be debated at next Thursday’s council meeting. The working party will meet fortnightly and will assemble on Tuesday for the first time.

Seven councillors have been selected for the group, including myself. The work programme will be guided by the council’s head of social care, Ruth Houghton. It will be chaired by the cabinet member for health, Karen Calder. The working party will also be attended by representatives from the police, fire service, CCG and public health.[2]

National action

David Cameron has appointed a minster for refugees and announced that the UK will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. That’s about three times the current rate. I think we could and should do more, and we must do it faster. Although the government promises to step up its reaction, there is no sign of the extra resources needed to get desperate people to the UK and give them homes. It looks like our painfully slow procedures for taking in and resettling asylum seekers will grind slowly on in the usual fashion.

Housing and support will be agreed between the government and local councils. Many if not most asylum seekers will be allocated localities and housing by Serco and G4S.

The government has issued a statement on how people can help refugees. It says: “We don’t think there will be a need to host Syrian refugees in homes and we’re not asking people to come forward with offers of a spare bedroom.”

The Home Office has sent local councils a briefing on refugee resettlement. The Local Government Association has also published a briefing note.

[1]. At the 2011 census, there were 129,700 households in Shropshire.

[2]. Working group members: Ruth Houghton – Head of social services; Cllr Karen Calder; Cllr Malcolm Price; Cllr Pauline Dee; Cllr Andy Boddington; Cllr Roger Evans; Cllr Kevin Pardy; Cllr Jane MacKenzie; Police rep – T/Chief Inspector Amrik Klair; Fire Service rep – Guy Williams; CCG rep – Dr Julie Davies; Public Health rep – Charlotte Cadwallader.



1 comment on We are a #RefugeesWelcome town and county – update on the refugee crisis

  1. The refugees themselves would hope that their religious needs were put first in our finding a haven for them. We shall have to think this through carefully, as it is probably the most unfamiliar to this part of the UK. Muslim people already living here may be the best ones to advise on how to proceed here.

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