Press release on Syrian Resettlement Scheme

Council leaders across Worcestershire have agreed to go ahead with a formal bid to the Home Office to relocate Syrian refugees across the county.

Negotiations will begin later this month with the Home Office and West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership to host up to 50 people in Worcestershire by the end of 2016.

It follows a decision by the leaders of Worcestershire County, Bromsgrove District, Malvern Hills District, Redditch Borough, Worcester City, Wychavon District and Wyre Forest District Councils at a meeting on 7 January.

The Government originally confirmed the full cost of supporting Syrian refugees for the first 12 months will be provided to councils from the Foreign Aid budget.

The arriving refugees will be looked to be housed within the private rented sector, to minimise the impact on social housing supply and other vulnerable groups. Some districts have already been approached by private landlords offering to house refugees.

Worcestershire Leaders said: “We’ve always been clear we were prepared to play our part in housing some of the most vulnerable people affected by the Syrian conflict, but we needed assurances over funding. We’re delighted we now have those assurances and are able to proceed with a formal bid.

“A huge amount of work still needs to be done and complex detail gone through, before we can accept our first families. We need to ensure the right infrastructure and support networks are in place to fully support Syrian refugees arriving here and help them settle into the community.

“As a result there’s no date yet for when we will receive our first families but our aim will be to ensure they arrive sooner rather than later.”

A decision on how many more Syrian refugees will be housed in Worcestershire over the next four years up until 2020 will be made once the initial families have arrived and begun to settle in.

Public Meeting: Where is integration in the refugee crisis?

Public Meeting: Wednesday 17th February, 8pm

Venue: Council Offices, Bromsgrove

Jenny Phillimore, Professor and Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at Birmingham University, will be speaking on refugee integration.

All supporters and any interested people welcome.

Further reading:

Over 1,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the UK under VPRS

The Government has kept its promise to relocate 1,000 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme by Christmas. In our area, Birmingham received its first refugees under the scheme on 17th December. The family of four are settling in and Refugee Action staff and volunteers will be looking after them as they get used to the West Midlands. Coventry has already taken 100+, Belfast, the Scottish Kyles of Bute and Newcastle (8 families there) have also been recipients during December 2015.

This gives us hope that Bromsgrove will receive a small number in the coming year and we have much to offer; this is a great little town in a beautiful area yet close to Birmingham. In order to speak to the new arrivals until they speak English, free Arabic language and culture classes are being given by Dr Hani Hussein on alternate Tuesday evenings at St John’s Church Hall, Kidderminster Rd. Please contact for more information.

On 17th February at 8.00pm Dr Jenny Phillimore, Director of IRiS, Birmingham University’s research group into migrant integration and an internationally recognised expert on this subject, will be speaking at a public meeting in Bromsgrove. This is a free event open to all and more information will be posted on this site in the New Year.

Bromsgrove & Redditch Welcome Refugees is working with Malvern Welcomes Syrian Refugees and a joint training day has been arranged on Saturday 5th March in Malvern. More information will follow.

Seeking Sanctuary – problem on our doorstep being ignored.

Seeking Sanctuary website

About ‘Seeking Sanctuary’. There are currently well over 6000 migrants in Calais (November 2015) and more nearby.  ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about this situation and is organising basic humanitarian assistance through Faith Communities and Community Organisations in partnership with experienced aid agencies such as ‘Secours Catholique’.

This is an appropriate season to offer thanks for all the heartening messages that we receive and which help to sustain us in our continued efforts to share news about the plight of the people who have been left to rot in the mud and gales at the edge of Calais. Several messages describe visits to Calais and the scenes that greet visitors: those received since early November have been added or linked to our website and we trust that you will find them informative.

Remarkable stories of goodwill emerge, despite the desperate state of the Calais “Jungle”; the residents continue to exhibit great resilience in the face of misfortune and scores of volunteers are on the ground to help them throughout each week with hundreds more turning up at weekends. Bearing this in mind, we take this opportunity of expressing the hope that all our readers experience peace and joy during the Christmas season of goodwill.

Phil & Ben

For further information on how you or your organisation can help,  contact Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802.  To check the latest news, visit our website on

Gifts For Calais

BRWR thanks everyone who contributed to the vanload of clean warm clothes, sleeping bags and other items, which were sent down to Calaid’s new warehouse facility at Feltham last month.  We can still accept items like sleeping bags and men’s waterproof clothing and trainers , which are needed in the Calais camps, but suggest that other good clothing be kept at home until our refugee families arrive next year. Contact to give.

If you wish to donate to Calais a very sensible way is to buy something from Calaid’s wish list on Amazon

The list includes much needed items such as wind up lanterns and radios and water carriers, which Amazon will deliver. Cash donations may also be made to Calaid via their website.

Update on Bromsgrove & Redditch Welcome Refugees.

Where are we now?  What is planned next?

Both Worcestershire County Council and Bromsgrove District Council have passed motions welcoming refugees. However they are both insisting on five years Central Government funding before actually accepting refugees. We do have several councillors, both district and county, actively concerned and working to ensure the councils fulfil their commitments.

We know funding has been promised for more than one year and we have now just heard that funding has been confirmed for five years.  The funding will gradually decrease over the five years as it is assumed the refugees will find work and become more self sufficient.

We understand the local councils will be informed when refugees are coming to our area and will be given two months’ notice

The BRWR committee has been studying what will be required when the refugees actually arrive in Bromsgrove. To assist us in this we are planning a visit to Coventry where 78 refugees have already been settled with a promise for another 100 in succeeding years. After this visit we then plan to meet Bromsgrove District Council CEO, Kevin Dicks and Chairperson, Margaret Sherrey, to discuss how BRWR can supplement and assist the local council in supporting and welcoming the refugees allocated to our area.

We have a list of 90 Bromsgrove people who are interested in helping along with details of how they believe they can help. When meeting the organisers in Coventry and our own council we need to ascertain what exactly will be the council’s responsibility and how they plan to fulfil it. Then we can arrange with the council how we can best help. We will need to consider such issues as safeguarding as the refugees will include children and vulnerable adults.

We have been offered lessons in Arabic for beginners and some of the committee are planning to take this up. Although it will be essential the refugees will learn English, knowing simple greetings along with simple questions and answers will be very useful. Please contact us for further details if you wish to join these classes.

Our next public meeting is on Wednesday February 17th at 8 pm at the Council Offices in Bromsgrove. Hopefully by then it will be confirmed when the first refugees will be arriving. We are considering asking one of the refugees already settled in Coventry to address us.  Professor Jenny Phillimore, Director of Institute for Research into Superdiversity at University of Birmingham has agreed to address us about Refugee Integration.

Jenny Phillimore has also informed us that she is about to run training sessions for volunteers and organisations working with refugees locally and she is working with Malvern Welcomes Syrian Refugees on a series of myth busting sessions with schools, businesses, churches and local authorities.. Any Bromsgrove people wishing to join please contact us.

.We were delighted that our member, Naeem Arif, was able to help organise the very successful joint Muslim and Christian interfaith service in St John’s Church on Sunday 22nd November in memorial to all those who died in the recent Paris terrorist attack. Bromsgrove showed itself as a compassionate tolerant town which we are sure will show the same qualities to those refugees who come here.

So things are progressing and we should soon be looking forward to welcoming these vulnerable refugees to our district. We will inform everyone and be calling on your help as soon as we have more definite information.

Help required: Does any person or organisation have access to a free meeting room we could use for committee meetings?

Where is integration in the refugee crisis?

Phillip Rapaport wrote:

This is the subject on which Professor Jenny Phillimore spoke at the City Of Sanctuary meeting I attended last in Birmingham. She spoke of the three stages of integration: Reception, Orientation and Social mobility, and how research shows that failure to properly engage with new arrivals can contribute to their ill health and failure to thrive and integrate. As we have discussed, one of the principal problems refugees have to be helped with is their profound sense of loss. Among the key ways to help newcomers integrate is help with language, advice about local rules and regulations, including such mundane matters as which colour bins to put out when, and how to recycle, and allowing them, if possible, to have some say in their accommodation. Age appropriate mentoring and buddying schemes are also helpful. Also, among a group of refugees are likely to be people who have specific skills and qualifications. Finding people in the community with similar skills and qualifications with whom newcomers can share their knowledge can contribute to a feeling of worth. I am more and more convinced that it will be necessary for us to access instruction in how to engage with people appropriately and with regard to their needs.