Call for volunteers to help refugee families: Refugee Week (18 -24 June)

A programme that supports refugees in Dorset is calling for more volunteers to help families settle in the county.

The Dorset Syrian Settlement Programme is made up of local authorities and charities, including the International Care Network. It offers support to families for five years and helps them find private housing, school places, jobs and local healthcare. At the end of that time they can either apply to stay in the UK for longer or choose to return to Syria if the situation has improved.

The call for more volunteers in Dorset comes as part of Refugee Week (18-24 June) which celebrates the contributions and resilience of refugees.

Steph Farr, Dorset Syrian Resettlement Programme Lead, said: “There are so many ways that people can help these families. It could be helping them learn a new language, showing them round their new community or just befriending them. Volunteers offer a great deal of comfort to these families during a very daunting time and, in return, often make new friends themselves. These families have a great deal to offer – they just need a little bit of help along the way.”

The programme also needs more private properties that could be let to families. Steph added: “It’s important that these refugee families have somewhere to live and call home for the time they are in the UK. We are looking for more private properties that can be let to these families. If you have a property and are interested in helping a family, we’d love to hear from you.”

Since December 2016, the county has welcomed nine families in Dorset. Cllr Steve Butler, Cabinet member for safeguarding at Dorset County Council, said: “We’re very proud of the work being done to support refugee families that come to Dorset. The kindness shown by volunteers is just fantastic and just shows what great people we have living in our local communities. If you think you could help in any way, please get in touch.”

Read more about the programme, including how you can help.