INVERCLYDE has been so successful in resettling Syrian refugees that it is attracting more people from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation who are choosing to come to the district from across the UK and Europe.
Council officials are proposing that Inverclyde continues to participate in UK Government resettlement schemes, subject to confirmation of financial details.
The area welcomed Afghan families from March 2015 and Syrian families from November 2015.
A report updating councillors states: “To date, a total of 55 families have resettled in Inverclyde. A number of Afghan families (18) have left the area but not for any reasons associated with their experience of living in Inverclyde.
“The main reasons given were lack of a mosque (and therefore no Imam for the religious education of their children), little access to affordable halal meat, desire to live closer to a larger Afghan community, a wish to live near friends and/or family and greater employment opportunities.
“In contrast, no Syrian families have enquired about leaving the area and, in fact, Syrians from other parts of Scotland and the UK, as well as Europe, have come and settled in Inverclyde, partly because of family connections but also because of the quality of support and services.
“There are currently 35 families and individuals who arrived under the three previously detailed Government schemes; this is made up of 64 adults and 60 children. The arrival of two new families will take this up to 70 and 65 respectively.
“In addition, we provide advice, guidance and assistance to two families who have arrived from another Scottish Local Authority and four other individuals.”
Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership’s ‘New Scots’ refugee integration team co-ordinates all support for the families to enable them to establish their new life in Inverclyde from the point they arrive at Glasgow Airport.
This includes airport pick-up, securing and furnishing tenancies, materials and food for the home on arrival, support to register with medical services, access to mental health support, applying for benefits, introduction and support to make community links, access to courses to learn language, assistance to commence voluntary work, support to secure employment, and supporting children into their education.
Meanwhile housing association River Clyde Homes (RCH) has recently reached an agreement with the Scottish Refugee Council so that asylum seekers who have been living in Glasgow and been granted refugee status will be referred to RCH and shown properties to see if they would be interested in moving to the area.
The report states: “In response to this the refugee integration team has agreed a process and will maintain communication with RCH to ensure we are aware of and have the resources to support any individuals moving to the area by applying for the appropriate funding from the Home Office.
“To date, there have been three cases of this type moving into the area and more can be expected in future.”
A new consolidated UK Resettlement Scheme is being introduced which, in its first year, is expected to deal mainly with those coming from the Middle East and North Africa, although, over time, the nationalities of refugees settled may change in response to world events.
The report concludes: “The option of continuing to participate in the scheme going forward could bring significant further benefit to the council by adding Home Office funding to health, education and social work service budgets, by developing existing community and third sector resources and by contributing to the council’s agenda to support repopulation and to reduce inequalities to make Inverclyde a better place to live.”