For some, this blog may be difficult and perhaps that is an even more important reason to write it. For others what it says may not go far enough.
This blog is about Syrian refugees – very genuine refugees who are in camps sheltering away from the terrible strife that has descended on their country, leaving them without homes or employment.
We have all seen footage on the news and heard stories of those caught up in the conflict, some very harrowing.
Last year the Government agreed in response to the growing crisis, that it was going to re home 20,000 Syrian refugees and West Sussex agreed to be part of this initiative. We, alongside our partners in the district and borough councils and health service, volunteered support for one family – or four people – per month for the duration of the scheme which is currently five years.
Considerable work has been undertaken, together with our partners, for many months in preparation to resettle the families. We have been doing this work alongside all the other work we do. It is a humanitarian response to a terrible crisis and in a small way West Sussex County Council, with the help of partners across the county, is doing ‘its bit’.
As I write this blog the first two families have arrived in West Sussex and are embarking on their first few days of a new life here. We can only imagine the huge range of emotions they are feeling at this time. I would like to welcome them to the county and wish them well over the coming months as they settle in.
As I said at the beginning of this blog, some people will not be comfortable with our response to the Syrian crisis and others will challenge and say we can do more. For me it is really important that here in West Sussex we are doing what we can to demonstrate our open and humanitarian nature by taking families who are in the most need. Local authorities are here for our local residents whether that is arranging care for the most vulnerable, helping children get the best start in life and at school, roads or housing. This is the backbone of what we do. However, in exceptional times of need such as this, that is extended to others who are in very dire situations too.
It is important West Sussex plays its part and so I am proud families are here receiving support and help as they embark on their new lives.
Could I just mention that we are encouraging local landlords to come forward with offers of homes they may wish to rent to take more such families. Interested landlords please contact firstname.lastname@example.org