Notts councils to offer tailored support to settling Syrian refugees
Vulnerable people who fled the Syrian conflict and have settled in Nottinghamshire will soon get better support services tailored to their needs.
The Labour-run Nottingham City Council, which runs the scheme, said it now has a better understanding of the support people need and the costs involved.
Back in 2015, Nottingham, Gedling, Broxtowe, Rushcliffe, and Newark and Sherwood all volunteered to play their part in taking 20,000 refugees nationally by 2020.
Families have arrived every year since then and receive extra support for five years to help them integrate into the Nottinghamshire community.
The last families will arrive in November this year and will receive support until 2024.
The city council acts as the head of the group of councils to decide how support for the refugees is handled.
As the scheme has been running for four years, and with the last families about to arrive, the council has said it plans to do a detailed review of how best to run the scheme for the next five years.
With vulnerable families, a range of bespoke support is offered to build cultural integration, promote and improve access to universal services, develop English fluency, and overcome barriers to employment.
The estimated cost of these services for next year is £372,000, which is funded by a grant from the Home Office.
To date, 267 people have been resettled, with a further 21 expected this year.
A council report on the scheme said: “Originally set up in 2014 to resettle extremely small numbers of Syrian nationals, this programme was expanded in late 2015, responding to an emerging humanitarian crisis within an extremely tight timeframe.
“The council began work on implementation with very limited knowledge of how the programme would be rolled out and what the actual needs of the cohort would be.
“Three years since the first arrival, families are generally settling and integrating well.”
Despite this, the council said several groups have identified a number of issues which have led them to reconsider how best to deliver the scheme which would allow families’ self-sufficiency while support is still available to them.
Among these are crime and anti-social behaviour which the refugees are at a particular risk of, the report said.
It added: “Early intervention in terms of harm prevention is the first priority, and work is done with each intake to ensure that key messages around hate crime and anti-social behaviour are communicated; that this behaviour should not be tolerated and that it will be considered seriously by the relevant authorities.
“We find families are often reluctant to involve uniformed services directly, which is likely an impact of their flight and bureaucratic conditioning.
“However, a number of families have been adversely affected by crime and disorder issues; they tend to raise informal reports to us directly, or via their caseworkers, which will be passed onto the police as appropriate.
“As numbers, and therefore visibility, of resettled refugees increase, it becomes likely that the risk to this group will increase, with an associated increase in incidents.
“This risk is set against a background of growing political and social tension, particularly around immigration. We are monitoring these tensions carefully.”
Councillor Rebecca Langton, the council’s head of communities who represents the Bilborough Ward for Labour, said: “We are co-ordinating arrangements on behalf of five local councils to provide support for vulnerable refugees, funded by the Government.
“The national scheme to resettle people fleeing the war in Syria runs over five years, starting in 2015, and so the first people entering the scheme will leave it next year and the last arrivals later this year will exit in 2024.
“The funding available from Government therefore tapers off and we are putting arrangements in place to ensure the appropriate level of support is in place for a smooth transition to everyday life outside the scheme.
“This is based on better knowledge of people’s needs built up over recent years and will be fully met within existing Government funding for the scheme.”