What we have done in Somerset
Displaced people who meet the selection criteria of the United Nations Higher Commission 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. With the help of local services, charities, and generous offers from the community we have since supported 137 people across 30 households to safely resettle through the scheme.
The New Global Scheme
While progress was delayed while flights were paused due to the pandemic, the UK met its VPRS target in February 2021. Since then, the Government has committed to continue refugee resettlement under the new United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme (UKRS).
In July 2021, 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) and we are currently exploring sustainable housing options.
How you can help
Whether it’s 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.
Two of the families 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.