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Six Syrian families re-settled in Shropshire, with more on the way

Oswestry | News | Published:

Six Syrian families have already been settled in Shropshire, it was revealed today.

Telford & Wrekin Council says it is meeting its promise to resettle 10 refugees per year, with a family of five already placed within the borough, with another five expected to arrive within the borough in the coming months. Shropshire Council has also taken five families, with another five to come.

They are being accepted as part of government policy to help refugees currently settled in temporary camps near the Syrian border.

Telford & Wrekin Council's Chris Kowalik said: "We continue to fulfil its a commitment to the Government's Syrian refugee resettlement programme by accommodating 10 refugees per year for the next five years.

"To date the first family of five have arrived and are settling in well into their new local community. We expect another five will be arriving soon."

In February, Telford agreed to welcome 10 Syrian refugees this year as part of the Government scheme to allow 20,000 people fleeing the country's civil war into Britain.

Telford & Wrekin Council is also expecting to accommodate unaccompanied children into its care who are already in the UK. Council bosses in Telford say they have already received a number of offers of support from people in the town, including accommodation, translation services, language tuition, clothing and bedding.

A Telford & Wrekin Syrian refugee multi-agency steering group has been set up and met for the first time in January. It includes council officers, health bosses, the emergency services and schools.

Shropshire Council revealed the 10 refugee families it is accommodating will be based in Oswestry and Shrewsbury.

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Mal Price, for planning and housing, said: "We have said that we will currently take up to 10 families, between 50 to 60 people, during this phase.

"Shropshire is now supporting five Syrian families in Shropshire and we are in regular contact with the Home Office to make arrangements to accept a further five families in due course.

"The families are being supported to integrate into UK life by organisations with experience in working with refugees and this is being funded through a specific grant payment from central government."

It comes as it was revealed that many councils across the UK have taken no Syrian refugees since a new government programme was announced last year.

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In September 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced the Government would resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of this Parliament to 2020.

But by March 2016, 1,602 people had been accepted under the scheme.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said the situation was "very disappointing".

Coventry, Nottingham and Renfrewshire have taken the most refugees since the programme began, the latest figures show.

Of the 1,602 people accepted, 610 were resettled in Scotland, 171 in the Yorkshire and Humberside region and 105 in Coventry. Only four London Boroughs - Barnet, Camden, Islington and Kingston upon-Thames - have taken any of the Syrian refugees.

Doctor forced to flee making new life here

"I had to leave and come here. There is no peace, no security in my country."

Those are the words of Mariam Darman, a doctor of oncology in her home country of Syria who was forced to flee the civil war for a new life in the UK.

The 47-year-old fled the war-torn country for a new life three years ago and now enjoys live in the West Midlands with her nine-year-old son Motaxar.

The pair were in Telford yesterday for a fun day organised by the Telford Quakers and a West Midlands charity which supports refugees.

She said: "I had to leave my country for political reasons.

"Last year I got my visa and I have started to work in a hospital in Birmingham.

"I work one day a week with people with dementia.

"I work helping them to improve their memory and I am trying to improve my English.

"The people I work with have lots of experience and I hope to one day work more within the hospital.

"People are very friendly. Birmingham is a multicultural place. There are lots of people from different area and lots of Muslims.

"But we don't have many friends or family in the area so for my son it is good to come here and meet people.

"We can make friendships, all the people here in Telford are kind and hospitable people."

Mayor of Telford, Councillor Rae Evans, greeted the party of 50 Syrian refugees when they visited Telford Town park for an outing.

The project was arranged jointly by Restore, a Birmingham charity which mentors refugees, and Telford Quakers.

Councillor Evans, who is both mayor and a Quaker attendee, said it was amazing to be able to speak to the people and to provide them with a chance to relax and have fun.

She said: "They are really lovely people and you really feel for some of the people who are here.

"One of the ladies who is here was a feminist activist in her home country which really interests me. Another I spoke to was a teacher who is well on her way to getting employment.

"It is so nice that they can come to Telford and have a fun day.

"That we are able to welcome them also sits well with Telford's multi-cultural nature.

"It is a very tolerant place and always has been."

Also enjoying the fun day were sisters Zahara and Zeinab Delfiyeh, who are 12 and 15 respectively.

The pair, along with their mum Hashmiyeh, 40, have been in the country for a year and they now go to school in King's Norton.

They said that although they have struggled with being the new girls in school, overall the West Midlands has been very welcoming.

Zeinab said: "I have found it very fun meeting different cultures and learning about different people.

"When I first came I felt very different because I was wearing my headscarf but then I saw lots of people wearing scarfs and it made me feel like I was in my country."

The family were brought over by their father, who had already been in the country for over a year, working as a translator of Persian and Arabic.

Zeinab explained: "He sent for us but because we did not have a visa we could not come straight away so we had to go to Dubai and we were there for one month, then we were in Turkey and then we came to the UK."

The teens said they learned their excellent English from watching films, but have struggled with taking all of their lessons in another language, but Zeinab is now working towards her A-levels.

Zahara added: "I like school. I have enjoyed today because I have liked speaking with the other ladies, it is nice to meet other people."

The clerk to Telford Quaker Meeting, David Bowgett, said: "We welcome this opportunity to make friendly links with newcomers to this country.

"Telford Town park is a superb venue and we hope that they had a happy time with us."

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