St Helens to welcome more refugees in 2019

Syrian refugees at the Qab Elias Informal Settlement in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon close to the Syrian border. Many of the residents will eventually be given residency in the UK.
Syrian refugees at the Qab Elias Informal Settlement in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon close to the Syrian border. Many of the residents will eventually be given residency in the UK.
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St Helens will welcome the first of 60 new refugees from March 2019.


In 2015 the government agreed to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees as part of a resettlement programme introduced to help people fleeing war and persecution in Syria.

The refugees would be dispersed across the UK, over a five-year period where they would receive support from the local authority.

Subsequently, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority agreed a sub-regional pledge to initially take in 510 Syrian refugees.

To date, 92 refugees have been resettled in St Helens.

One Syrian family, which included a heavily pregnant mum and three young children, had to be rehomed following an arson attack last November.

Layla Davies, the council’s resettlement officer, told the safer communities overview and scrutiny panel on Tuesday this was an “isolated incident” and said families are “very happy” in St Helens.

Ms Davies said: “On the whole I would say our families have integrated very well.

“We’ve had very positive feedback. I’m sure you’ve heard of the incident in Park Avenue, the arson attack.

“That’s an isolated incident. I can say that on the whole our families are very happy in St Helens. Our partners have been fantastic.

“The public have been fantastic. So, on the whole I would say it is a positive experience.”

Four more cohorts are expected to arrive between March 2019 to January 2020, bringing the total in phase two of the resettlement programme to 60.

When they arrive in the UK, the refugees will be provided with suitable accommodation for at least 12 months and will be assigned an integration caseworker to support them over a year.

They will also be given access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses from an accredited provider for up to 12 months and access to translation services.

Government funding is provided to local authorities to cover the costs of resettlement.

Moss Bank councillor John Fulham, chairman of panel, said the 20,000 refugees the UK government agreed to resettle is “insignificant” in the wider context of the Syrian conflict, which is still ongoing.

Coun Fulham said: “These people have a significant contribution to whichever country they choose to live in. The Syrians are very industrious.

“They’re very creative and they know how to get things done, when the government’s not in the way.

“I just hope we were in a position to accept more and I think the response of the public in St Helens and Britain at large demonstrates how happy the British are to receive these people and have them as their neighbours.”

The 92 refugees that have been resettled in the borough includes 22 individuals as part of the family reunion scheme, which resettles family members that have been placed elsewhere in the UK.

Ten people have also been resettled from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region under the vulnerable children resettlement scheme.