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.
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.
|LocationCHARIS Refugees, 16/17 Hammet Street, Taunton TA1 1RZ
|Opening 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
Phone: 07754 875093
|LocationDiversity Voice, Victoria Park Community Centre, Victoria Park Drive, Bridgwater TA6 7AS
|Opening 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
Phone: 07543 219282
|LocationFrome Town Council, Frome Town Hall, Christchurch Street West, Frome BA11 1EB
|Opening timesTuesdays 10am to 3pm
Thursdays 12pm to 2pm: Welfare Checks
|Key contactsHub Advice Officers
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 07710 056210
Emma Lacey Williams Email: email@example.com
Nikki Cox, Partnership Lead Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Phone: 07964 059296
|LocationWells City Council and Wells Community Network, Portway Annexe, The Portway Building, Portway Avenue, Wells BA5 2QF
|Opening 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
Phone: 07821 811737
Assistant Hub Manager: Inna Prykhodko
Wells Community Network contact details: email@example.com
Helpline: 01749 467079
|LocationYeovil Community Church, The Gateway, Addlewell Lane, Yeovil BA20 1QN
|Opening timesWednesday 10am to 12pm, Friday 10am to 12.30pm
Both sessions include welfare checks
|Key contactsHub Manager: Vicki Pritchard
Phone: 07735 815 266
Welcome Hubs Programme Manager
16/17 Hammet Street
Mobile: 07719 747485
SCC Resettlement Workers
Somerset West and Taunton Sedgemoor
Mobile: 07976 075963
Mobile: 07811 308397
Mobile: 07811 310871
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme is an exception to this, see the information above.
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.
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.