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. This is 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.

The 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.

Welcome Hubs

See the Welcome Hubs table at full width
LocationOpening timesKey contacts
LocationCHARIS Refugees, 16/17 Hammet Street, Taunton TA1 1RZOpening timesOpen 10am to 3pm Monday to Thursday

2nd, 4th and 5th Tuesday (if there is one) of the month: Welfare checks

1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month 10am to 12.30pm: Employment Hub

Wednesday 10am to 12pm: Wellbeing Café

First Thursday in the month 1pm to 3 pm: Knitting

Monday to Thursday: ESOL
Key contactsHub Manager: Luzma Jimenez

Email: LuzmaJimenez@charisrefugees.org

Phone: 07754 875093
LocationDiversity Voice, Victoria Park Community Centre, Victoria Park Drive, Bridgwater TA6 7ASOpening timesMonday 9.30am to 12pm: Drop in and welfare checks

Wednesday 2pm to 5pm: Online (booking only)

3 Thursdays a month 12.30pm to 3pm: North Petherton Community Centre (check Diversity Voice website for dates)
Key contactsHub Manager: Ellie Bell

Email: Eleanor.bell@diversityvoice.org.uk

Phone: 07543 219282
LocationFrome Town Council, Frome Town Hall, Christchurch Street West, Frome BA11 1EBOpening timesTuesdays 10am to 3pm

Thursdays 12pm to 2pm: Welfare Checks
Key contactsHub Advice Officers

Iryna Ladyzhenska
Email: iladyzhenska@frometowncouncil.gov.uk Mobile: 07710 056210

Emma Lacey Williams Email: elaceywilliams@frometowncouncil.gov.uk

Nikki Cox, Partnership Lead Email: ncox@frometowncouncil.gov.uk
Phone: 01373 475579
LocationWatchet and Minehead

The Sanctuary 38 Swain Street, Watchet TA23 0AE

Minehead Eye, 1 Mart Road, Minehead TA24 6SR
Opening timesWednesday 3pm to 5pm (Minehead Eye)
Thursday 10am to 1pm (The Sanctuary)
Welfare checks on both days
Key contactsHub Manager: Kate Kennedy
Email: WatchetWelcomeHub@gmx.co.uk
Phone: 07964 059296
LocationWells City Council and Wells Community Network, Portway Annexe, The Portway Building, Portway Avenue, Wells BA5 2QFOpening timesPortway Annex
Monday 10 am to 1pm: Drop-ins and welfare checks
English lessons throughout the week (contact Hub for details)

Shepton Mallet – St Michael’s Catholic Church, 6 Park Road, Shepton Mallet
1st Thursday in the month 10.30am to 12pm: Drop-In session
Welfare checks mostly on Mondays 10am to 1pm
Key contactsHub Manager: Anna Tumanova
Email: refhub@Wells.gov.uk
Phone: 07821 811737

Assistant Hub Manager: Inna Prykhodko
Email: refassist@wells.gov.uk

Wells Community Network contact details: wcnukraine@gmail.com
Helpline: 01749 467079
LocationYeovil Community Church, The Gateway, Addlewell Lane, Yeovil BA20 1QNOpening timesWednesday 10am to 12pm, Friday 10am to 12.30pm
Both sessions include welfare checks
Key contactsHub Manager: Vicki Pritchard
Email: vicki.pritchard@yeovil4family.org.uk
Phone: 07735 815 266

Welcome Hubs Programme Manager

Alex Melbourne
CHARIS Refugees
16/17 Hammet Street
Taunton
TA1 1RZ

Email: AlexMelbourne@charisrefugees.org
Mobile: 07719 747485

SCC Resettlement Workers

Somerset West and Taunton Sedgemoor

Alison Forshaw
Email: alison.forshaw@somerset.gov.uk
Mobile: 07976 075963

Alex Mountain
Email: alex.mountain@somerset.gov.uk
Mobile: 07811307536

South Somerset 

Sarah Berry
Email: sarah.berry@somerset.gov.uk 
Mobile: 07811 308397

Sedgemoor

Julie Gilfoyle
Email: julie.gilfole@somerset.gov.uk
Mobile: 07811 310871

Mendip

Naomi Frost
Email: naomi.frost@somerset.gov.uk
Mobile: 07971 658517

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

CHARIS 
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: February 6, 2024 by Kailani

Next review due: August 6, 2024

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