In 2016, Ealing Council pledged to support the UK government efforts to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees and 3,000 children fleeing other conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Since then, the refugee resettlement team, a small but dedicated team, has been co-ordinating the arrival of some of these vulnerable refugees.
The team provides holistic support to ensure their successful integration in the borough. The efforts are enhanced by the invaluable help of local volunteers who offer their time and skills to support these vulnerable individuals.
To date, 13 households, comprising 48 individuals, have been resettled in Ealing, working in close coordination with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, and the government Home Office.
Unfortunately, Ealing Council’s initial pledge of resettling 20 refugee households by 2020 will not be met this year because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nonetheless, the team will continue to work towards this goal as soon as the situation permits.
Support has not paused
Although the current lockdown has halted new arrivals, the support provided to refugees who are resettled in Ealing has not been paused.
Resettlement officer Marc Simo-Husillos said: “Our clients continue to require assistance with regards to their medical, education and welfare needs, and our team has been actively providing this support remotely.
“There is one-to-one casework support provision online, and two online English classes to around eight students, delivered twice a week by a volunteer.
“Before the lockdown, our volunteers used meet with clients on a weekly basis to help them practice their English and spend some time together. From this week we are getting in touch with volunteers to resume the meetings on WhatsApp or in person in gardens or in public spaces applying the social distance measures.”
Somewhere safe to sleep
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, is pictured above during a visit to the Calais jungle a few years ago. He said: “I am proud that Ealing made a commitment to providing a haven for vulnerable children and adults who have suffered persecution in their own countries. Meeting children as young as nine in the Calais jungle was heart-breaking. All they wanted was somewhere safe to sleep at night and be able to go to school.
“The current COVID-19 situation has meant that we will not support the full complement we would have wanted to, but our commitment remains firm and we are fully prepared to provide help and assistance.
“Thank you to the volunteers who support the Ealing resettlement team who have made this possible, and to our new residents, welcome.”