Banbury gives a warm welcome to Syrian refugees

Banburyshire has offered a big welcome to eight Syrian families who have escaped the ravages of refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

And genereous-hearted local residents have joined an army of volunteers helping them settle into their new homes – far from their own war-torn countries.

Syrian children in a makeshift camp in the Hama province not far from Turkish troops. Photo: Getty Images

Syrian children in a makeshift camp in the Hama province not far from Turkish troops. Photo: Getty Images

Four more families are expected within the next year.

“All of the families have been resettled in private rental accommodation with four families in Banbury, three in Bicester and one in Kidlington,” said Tom Slingsby, spokesman for Cherwell District Council.

A number of volunteers have signed up with an organisation called Connection Support which is assisting the resettlement in many ways, from collecting the families from the airport to organising English language classes.

A meeting of the Banbury branch of Amnesty International this month produced a number of local residents who are keen to offer help.

Ian Myson of the group said: “A list of action points was created, including an appeal for bicycles, help with house decorating, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers and help with lifts.”

Cherwell has committed to resettling 12 families under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) programme.

“The council is working closely with Connection Support to offer intensive resettlement support during the families’ first two weeks in the district and ongoing support thereafter.

“This includes making sure the families are going to English language classes; that children are attending school or nursery; that the families have access to healthcare and benefits and that they are managing their money well and working towards employment and becoming fully independent and integrated into our communities.

“Cherwell has an officer dedicated to the VPR scheme who works closely to ensure the families’ needs are met and that any obstacles to their independence are dealt with.”

Connection Support’s work continues for a year and includes helping the refugees adapt to their new country and culture and everyday things such as transport and shopping.

If anyone can offer help please contact Karen Newman at Connection Support via karennewman@connectionsupport.org.uk

For information about Connection Support see https://www.connectionsupport.org.uk/helping-syrian-refugees/