As we reach the end of Refugee Week, 15-21 June 2015, it seems the perfect time for an update on progress on the resettling of 50 Syrian refugees here in the borough of Kingston. In October, last year Cllr Kevin Davis pledged to offer sanctuary to these UN-accredited refugees due to a campaign by local faith groups, including Kingston Liberal Synagogue where I am a member, and Citizens UK (the campaigning group behind this initiative).
Since then I have been working with the council, Citizens UK, faith groups, community activists and Refugee Action Kingston (RAK) to make this happen. The funding is in place from the EU, the Home Office is ready to give the United Nations Commission for Refugees the go-ahead, the local health and education services are notified and RAK is prepared to offer their settling-in services.
Yet, this is not enough. These 14 or so vulnerable families need places to live, but because there is such pressure on homes in the borough, with over 6,000 households on the waiting list for a council property, we are unable to invite them here.
So, if you are a landlord of a home in Kingston borough, and would like to let it to a family of desperate refugees currently languishing in a camp in the Middle East, or just want to know more, please get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, if you’re not a landlord, but still want to take action, join Citizens UK leaders, faith leaders, recent refugees from Syria and people who came to the UK on the Kindertransport (the British program that saved 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis) on Wednesday 24th June 2015, at 9am at the Kindertransport Statue at Liverpool Street Station. From here we will walk to Parliament to lobby MPs prior to Prime Minister’s Questions. We will hand over details of all the communities, organisations, and councils across the UK who are willing to welcome such refugees.
So far, through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, the UK has only taken around 180 of the 750 people it promised to help back in January 2014. This is less than a drop in the ocean when you remember there are over 4 million Syrians suffering in camps outside their home country.