What we have done in Somerset

Displaced people who meet the selection criteria of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are referred to and screened by the Home Office. After that the Home Office works with local authorities’ resettlement schemes to place refugees through safe and planned pathways.

We have been working alongside UNHCR, the Home Office, regional Migration Partnership, and district partners since 2015 – when we committed to take part in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). This scheme was a UK Government initiative to resettle 20,000 people impacted by the Syrian conflict in the UK by 2020.

The first refugee family was welcomed to Somerset in 2016. Since then we have committed to take part in subsequent government resettlement programs. With the help of local services, charities, and generous offers from the community we have supported many people to safely resettle here.

Guidance on Ukrainian resettlement

Homes for Ukraine
The government has announced the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship pathway.  You can register your interest in sponsoring a family at Homes for Ukraine – Homes for Ukraine – Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine. This page offers further guidance about who can become a sponsor.

If you wish to be matched to a Ukrainian individual or family, you can register here.

The Home Secretary has confirmed that Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas in the UK will have their visas temporarily extended, or be able to switch onto different visa routes.

How you can help
If you are looking for ways to support Ukrainian refugees, you can find out about what to consider when donating, where to donate, and the government’s plans for a sponsorship program on the GOV.UK website.

You can also find more information in the Health, safety and wellbeing  section.

The New Global Scheme

The UK met its VPRS target in February 2021. Since then, the Government has committed to continue refugee resettlement under the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme (UKRS).

In September 2022, we pledged to continue our support for refugees by agreeing to take part in UKRS. This scheme takes the success of VPRS and extends it to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees.

Afghan Resettlement

In Summer 2021, local authorities were called upon to expand their support to Afghan personnel who worked alongside the British military as interpreters and translators, as well as at-risk citizens.

We are committed to supporting people placed through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

Temporary Accommodation for Asylum Seekers

The Home Office are using hotels as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers may have had a difficult experience before arriving in the UK and may not understand English. As a county we are known for our compassion and supporting others who are going through difficult.

The Home Office may set up a hotel in Somerset, so we have put together a number of responses to some frequently asked questions to help increase your understanding should this be the case.

Widening Asylum Dispersal

In the 2022 local authorities were mandated by The Home Office to support the widening asylum dispersal scheme.

The Home Office contractor Ready Homes are looking to procure properties across the country so that asylum seekers can be moved out of hotels into dispersal accommodation. When a move has taken place, asylum cases are considered.

Somerset will be supporting the Home Office in the delivery of this scheme.

How you can help

Whether it is your time, resources, or skills on offer, we want to direct you to the right place to support refugees.

Private Landlords
While we are grateful for all offers of help, we are unable to place refugees in temporary accommodation or spare rooms. If you are a private landlord with self-contained accommodation, we would like to hear from you. We are particularly looking for housing that is close to town centres. Please contact resettlement@somerset.gov.uk.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme is an exception to this, see the information above.

Community Sponsorship

A number of families are placed in Somerset have been supported by the local Community Sponsor group CHARIS. Community Sponsorship sits alongside local authority work as another pathway for resettlement. Community Sponsors mobilise local volunteers to fundraise and support a refugee family to resettle in the community.

Donate or Volunteer
Refugee Aid from Taunton (RAFT)
Taunton Welcomes Refugees (TWR)
Langport Area Refugee Action (LARA)
Refugee Action in Somerset East (RAISE)
Wiveliscombe Welcomes Refugees

Thank You

We would like to thank members of the public, local services, and charities who have come forward with offers of housing, spare rooms, children’s toys, clothing, and employment opportunities. We know that resettlement is achieved through communities and your offers make all the difference to what we do.

Last reviewed: May 12, 2023 by John

Next review due: November 12, 2023

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