Support for refugees
The ongoing plight of refugees is a matter that we know many people in the district are concerned about, and we have had a number of calls and emails from residents who are keen to help.
National government scheme
In 2015, the government announced the creation of its Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.
We have said that Canterbury district will take two families a year for five years, but that this is dependent on properties in the private sector becoming available for them to live in.
Two families from Syria arrived in the district in September 2016 and have been housed in the district in properties in the private sector, not in social housing. These properties have been very kindly provided by local people who have voluntarily chosen to help.
The families were selected by the government under the criteria of its national scheme. All costs are being met by the government in full.
Our role is to welcome the families and provide resettlement support to help them become part of the community. There has been lots of generous support from the community. People have cooked a welcome meal, organised a home starter pack, helped to clean and tidy the properties and offered English classes.
Kent-wide response to the closure of the 'Jungle'
Coordination of the impact on Kent of the closure of the 'Jungle' in Calais is being led by Kent County Council.
Although the plight of refugees is a serious issue, it is not a new issue. There are already established procedures in place for dealing with refugees in Kent and the public can help through fostering and charity donations.
The greatest challenge facing our area is the number of unaccompanied migrant children to have come to the UK from Calais. As they are children, the responsibility for their welfare lies with Kent County Council.
There is currently a shortage of foster carers for refugee and non-refugee children, which the county council is trying to tackle. KCC is actively recruiting for foster carers at the moment. However, people won’t just be able to look after these young people without undergoing a rigorous screening process first. If you are interested in helping, contact Kent Fostering or Could You Foster.
Giving to charity
A number of people have contacted the council to offer help of money, clothes and shoes. We have put together the following list of charities and organisations who would be happy to receive public support:
- Christian Aid
- British Red Cross
- Refugee Action
- Canterbury Christ Church University Students Union who are collecting items on behalf of Calais Action
- Kent Refugee Action Network