Prof Simon Brake, Director of Primary Care, Sustainability and Integration at Coventry City Council and Chief Executive of Coventry & Rugby GP Alliance NHS, who led the Coventry bid to welcome refugees in 2014, welcomed us at the beautiful and historic city of Coventry that has a population of about 330,000.
To support settlement of refugees a grant aid agreement is made with three local organisations which consist of Coventry CAB, Law Centre and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. Working in collaboration with the Home Office, the Bishop of Coventry, multi faith networks and specialist organisations, Simon has successfully settled over 190 refugees in the city. He informed us that at present the Home Office is considering refugees under the following three vulnerability criteria:
- Missing male member from family
- Suffered torture and violence
- Health conditions not treatable within camps or the country refugees are in.
Simon further told us that when refugees arrive in the city, they are provided caseworkers to deal with necessary documentation and necessary support for acclimatisation. Refugees are provided with basic essentials to start their new life in the city.
Talking about the role of volunteers, Simon was very clear on suitability and reliability of volunteers. Supporting refugees who may have faced all sorts of persecution and torture, sexual violence and loss of family members is not only complex but where a high degree of sensitivity and empathy is required too. Hence the need for volunteers to be suitably trained, enhanced DBS checked and reliability is assured.
He also added that due to complex nature of housing, education and money matters, organisations supporting refugees must have communications and press policies. Restraint should be exercised in entering into a debate on these statutory functions and should be left to the statutory authorities to deal with.
Simon gave us valuable insight to the type of help refugees would find useful and appreciate, as certain goods and provisions will not be provided to them through statutory resources.
Bromsgrove Welcome Refugees