Malvern Welcomes: Update

It is almost two years since the formation of Malvern Welcomes Syrian Refugees.  For many months we worked to convince our councils in Malvern and Worcestershire that we must play a part in giving assistance to people who, through no fault of their own, have been forced to flee their homes and the unimaginable horrors of the war which is raging in Syria.

We were delighted when Worcester-shire County Council agreed to resettle 12 vulnerable Syrian families during 2016, with the possibility of further families being accepted in future years.  This may seem a drop in the ocean in the face of the exponential proportions of the current refugee crisis but for each of these families this is a lifeline.

We are pleased to tell you that the first group of families has now arrived in the county and further ones are expected before the end of 2016.  We are hopeful that three families will be resettled in the Malvern area, although this is not yet confirmed.

Many of you completed the human resources form some months ago and there were many generous offers of support from very highly skilled and experienced people.  Since then, Worcestershire County Council has commissioned the charity, Refugee Action, to manage the arrivals of the families and most aspects of their resettlement.  This includes the selection and training of volunteers.

Worcestershire County Council and Refugee Action are aware of the impressive database of skills which we have gathered.  However, as such a small number of families are being resettled in our area, volunteering opportunities are few. Volunteer positions will be advertised by Refugee Action as they become available.

We do, though, have an important role to play. We have agreed with Refugee Action that we will provide a volunteer support network.  This support will include setting up a multi-agency supported refugee drop-in session, providing English language buddies, trauma counselling, drivers and employment coaches.

In addition to this, a vital aspect of our work is to create a culture of welcome for refugees. In our presentations to schools, colleges and local groups we will continue to raise awareness as to why people become refugees and the problems that they face.

We should be proud that, as a community, we have been successful in persuading our council to play a part in the resettlement programme. The families can now start to rebuild their lives in safety.

Without your support this would not have become a reality.