Q&A: How will Syrian refugees moving to Chesterfield affect you?

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Councillors in Chesterfield are being asked by the Government to consider housing up to six vulnerable Syrian refugee families in the town as part of a UK-wide humanitarian response.

If Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet decides to support the proposals then the families from the war torn country would come for up to five years as part of the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Chesterfield asked to house six Syrian refugee families

The scheme prioritises help for survivors of torture and violence, and women and children at risk or in need of medical care.

Councillors will be told that the Government scheme funds the cost of housing the refugees during their stay and providing any services they require.

Six homes have been identified that may be suitable to house refugees, although it is likely only three or four would be needed. The homes chosen should not impact on council house waiting lists as properties that are more difficult to let will be used.

Councillor Chris Ludlow, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Nobody can fail to be moved by the scale of the humanitarian crisis in worn torn Syria.

“The families being resettled through the scheme are currently in Syria within refugee camps and are at risk of violence or torture, or are particularly vulnerable.

“The Government has asked councils across Derbyshire to take a small share of the refugees they have agreed to have nationally and councillors will be asked to consider housing some of those families in Chesterfield.

“The families, which typically consist of two to eight people, would be housed in difficult to let properties.”

The council’s cabinet is being recommended to approve the plans when they meet on 17 May.

The frequently asked questions below have been put together to answer questions that residents may have.

Why has caused the refugee crisis in Syria?

The refugee crisis has been triggered by a civil war that began following the anti-Government demonstrations in March 2011, as part of what became known as the Arab Spring.

The peaceful protests quickly escalated after the government’s violent crackdown, and rebels began fighting back against the regime.

The scale of the conflict meant that by March 2016 the UN estimated that 13.5 million Syrian people were in need of humanitarian aid (source: United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

In addition 6.6 million have been internally displaced by violence and 4.8 million have fled the country. This is the largest exodus of people from a country since the Second World War.

Why are some refugees coming to Derbyshire?

The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS) is a Government resettlement programme to relocate 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees to the UK.

The scheme prioritises help for survivors of torture and violence, and women and children at risk or in need of medical care.

Generally families in the scheme will consist of two to six people.

Each area of the UK is being asked to take a share of these 20,000 refugees.

The response in Derbyshire is being co-ordinated by Derbyshire County Council and involves several district and borough councils.

Chesterfield borough councillors will be asked by the Government to support the scheme when they meet on 17 May.

How many Syrian refugee families would be housed in Chesterfield if the council decides to join the scheme?

Councillors are being asked to consider allowing up to six vulnerable refugee families – which typically consist of between two and six people – to be housed in Chesterfield. However, it is expected that only three or four homes would be needed to houses refugees.

The exact number of people in each family will depend on which families the Government identifies should be placed in Derbyshire.

What impact would it have on Chesterfield residents?

As in all areas of the country the scheme will operate to minimise any impact on local residents.

No properties would be used for the scheme in areas where GP surgeries, NHS dentists and schools are oversubscribed.

Will council house waiting lists be affected?

We expect minimal impact on council house waiting lists as homes in harder to let locations would be used that have not been taken up when offered to local residents.

Are Chesterfield tax payers funding the resettlement of Syrian refugees?

The Government’s national Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme will fund the cost of housing the refugees during their stay and providing any services they require.

When Chesterfield borough councillors meet on 17 May to discuss the issue they will consider making a one-off payment of £2,000 towards a Derbyshire-wide scheme to cover some costs towards administering the scheme before this Government funding is paid.

How long would the refugees stay for?

The scheme gives refugees permission to remain in the UK for up to five years. At the end of the five years if they are unable to return to Syria they may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.

What is the rest of Derbyshire doing?

The scheme in Derbyshire is being led by Derbyshire County Council and involves several district and borough councils in the county.

The county council will manage and co-ordinate the programme, including organising any support the vulnerable families may need.

Derbyshire Dales District Council has already voted to support the scheme. Other councils, including Chesterfield, are considering in the coming weeks whether they can offer support.

When would the Syrian refugees arrive?

No exact timescale has been set but it is likely to be in the autumn.

The families being resettled in Derbyshire have been through a tremendous ordeal and are vulnerable. The scheme will ensure they are given time and space to settle, with support from the professional services that will be put in place to meet their needs.

What security checks will refugees have undergone?

When refugees arrive in the UK they will go through a thorough two-stage vetting process. The Home Office works closely with the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), which has its own robust identification processes in place. This includes the taking of biometrics, documentary evidence and interviews.

When potential cases are submitted by the UNHCR for consideration they are screened and considered by the Home Office for suitability for entry to the UK. This includes the taking of further biometric data.

The Home Office retains the right to reject individuals on security grounds, including where there is insufficient information to undertake effective screening.

How can I help?

Councils in Derbyshire are working with local church and voluntary groups to coordinate the generosity and commitment that exists among Derbyshire’s residents and communities to support refugees.

Many residents and community organisations have already contacted councils wanting to offer donations and support.

Further information about how you can help will be available shortly on these website pages.