Council chiefs find homes in St Helens for Syrian refugees

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St Helens town hall is in the process of identifying borough homes suitable to house asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Syria.

Council bosses earlier this month pledged their support for campaigns to help those leaving the war-torn country and have reaffirmed their commitment.

It is estimated around 30 homes will be required to support refugees already in the country.

With more accommodation needed as part of government plans to resettle a further 20,000 across the country over the next five years.

Council leader Coun Barrie Grunewald said: “The humanitarian crisis in Syria is on such a horrific scale that we cannot - and must not - turn our backs on those people.

“It is right that we offer safety and shelter to families who are in such desperate need and in St Helens we fully intend to play our part.

“We are waiting for the Government to explain just how they also intend to help.”

The exact number coming to St Helens has not been determined and local authorities across the country have urged Westminster to offer adequate resources to councils willing to help.

Coun Grunewald added: “We want to play our part in extending the hand of friendship and welcome to the displaced people of Syria.

“It is right that all local authorities do what they can to support these families and children.

“However there is a significant financial cost to this support. We are calling on the government to ensure we are properly resourced to give the support needed to help these families integrate into our community and begin to get their lives back together.”

Despite families coming forward to offer spare rooms to refugees, the Local Government Association (LGA) said it considered that a “short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Coun David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s asylum, migration and refugee task group, said: “It has been extremely heart-warming to see so many people offering to help take vulnerable refugees into their homes. However, the government has confirmed that the scheme will not involve people putting up refugees in spare rooms, and encourages anyone generously offering to help to donate to charities.”