St Augustine’s Centre, Halifax, will join forces with Calderdale Council to help welcome 50 Syrian refugees to the borough over the next two years.
It is expected that St Augustine’s will take a leading role in providing the newcomers with help settling into their new lives and communities.
Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift says, “Over the past few days, most people have been moved by the images of the problems facing the refugees forced out of their homes by the war in Syria.
“That’s why Calderdale Council has agreed on a cross-party basis that we should be playing our part in helping.”
Cllr Swift mentions, “We’re also working with St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax, which is the main voluntary sector provider of support for refugees in Calderdale.
“It provides a welcoming and safe place for people, some of whom have been through unimaginable experiences, and offers them a lifeline as they begin to adjust to life in a new community.”
St Augustine’s Centre works with refugees in the area to give support so they feel safe and comfortable in their new environment while giving them the ability to begin a new life, providing help with employment, immigration advice, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, meals, social activities or just a listening ear when needed.
Vicky Ledwidge, Project Leader at St Augustine’s Centre, says, “We are so pleased to have been included in conversations with the Council so early on in the project.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Council and strengthening our ongoing relationship with them – they are very supportive of our work.”
St Augustine’s Centre hopes to raise £10,000 by Christmas so they can carry on providing the ongoing necessary support and services for the refugees and asylum seekers within the area.
Vicky explains, “Essentially Halifax is a dispersal town for those going through the asylum process, so we have over 200 of them living close to the centre.
“Already we have provided over 5,000 hot meals this year to our Centre Users.
“The volunteers and staff at the centre constantly go above and beyond and without them we wouldn’t be able to survive.
“The support we’ve received recently has been fantastic, and we’re very grateful.”
The re-settlement programme for refugees that is taking place across West Yorkshire is being co-ordinated by Migration Yorkshire, a regional partnership working with national and local governments and organisations to control migration to the region.
The health and school costs for this scheme in Calderdale will be covered by the Government’s Overseas Aid budget.
Cllr Tim Swift says, “Details of the Government scheme are still coming out and we are working closely with our neighbouring councils through Migration Yorkshire to organise the West Yorkshire response.
“In Calderdale we have offered to take 50 Syrian refugees, which will be adults and families with children.
“We’re now making sure that all the necessary arrangements, such as housing and school places, are ready in time for their arrival over the coming months, so that they can settle quickly into their new life here.”
Cllr Swift adds, “At the next Cabinet meeting on the 12th October we will consider what immediate support we can give to our voluntary sector partners, such as St Augustine’s, which are providing such vital services to refugees in Calderdale.
“The support from local people has been overwhelming and we’re still being contacted by residents who want to help.”
If you are searching for ideas on how to help Syrian refugees, please visit the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-refugees-what-you-can-do-to-help--2
To find out more about St Augustine’s fundraising efforts, follow the hashtag #helpinghalifax on Twitter.
To donate to the St Augustine’s Centre appeal, visit: www.give.net/20171078
To volunteer at the Centre contact them via email: info [at] staugustinescentrehalifax.org.uk