Highland prepares for fourth group of Syrian refugees


Issued on behalf of the Highland Syrian Resettlement Programme Partners

Highland refugee resettlement partners confirm that they are in the final phase of preparations to receive 6 Syrian refugee families to Inverness in the coming months.

Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “Highland has already welcomed 17 families to our region. Six families arrived in Alness during 2016, a further 4 were resettled in Lochaber in 2017 and most recently 7 Syrian families moved to Dingwall in 2018.”

She added: “We are continuing our commitment to help resettle more refugees from Syria and are working closely with our key partners to ensure that we are in the best position possible to ensure a smooth transition for families when they arrive. We are doing everything that we can to be ready to support them adjust to their new lives in the Highlands.”

A group of officers and volunteers from The Highland Council, Police Scotland, NHS Highland, and Highland Third Sector Interface are working together to put preparations in place for housing, education and health support for the families.

Community group representatives and interested members of the public have been invited to a community engagement event at Charleston Academy to hear about how the Highlands are preparing to welcome more refugees and how people can help.  Members of the community will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the refugee resettlement programme.

The meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday 19 September in Charleston Academy.

Provost of Inverness, Cllr Helen Carmichael, said: “Along with our partners, we have identified Inverness as currently the best-suited location to welcome the fourth group of Syrian refugees to Highland.  It has been identified for the available housing, schooling, health support and access to interpretation services. The refugees coming have been through a tremendous ordeal and I am sure many individuals, voluntary groups, local businesses and organisations will want to help them settle in and will rally together to provide the support and hospitality for which we are known across the world.”

Inspector Jim Rice, Police Scotland said: "Police Scotland are committed to assisting Syrian refugees integrate safely and successfully into communities in the Highlands. We're fortunate to serve some of the safest communities in the country and will continue to focus on our top priority of keeping people safe - whatever their culture, race or religious beliefs."

Dr Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: "NHS Highland continues to work closely with partner agencies and local general practitioners to ensure that the refugee families have access to high quality health care. We will do all we can to meet their needs."

Mhairi Wylie, Chief Officer, Highland Third Sector Interface said: “Our volunteers have been closely involved in welcoming the previous refugee families to the Highlands. They demonstrate an outstanding commitment to showcasing the best of Highland hospitality, ensuring that these families can come here and experience a future in one of the safest, most beautiful and welcoming areas of the UK.” 

The Highland Council has agreed with COSLA to take up to 25 - 30 families, over the period of the UK-wide Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, subject to the confirmation of available housing, health services and education provision.  For this fourth phase, Highland Council is working in partnership with Cairn Housing Association to provide suitable accommodation and regular meetings are taking place with NHS Highland, Police Scotland, Highland Third Sector Interface, In This Together, Highlife Highland and the Department for Work and Pensions to address matters including accommodation, employment/welfare, education and health.

The Home Office and Department for International Development are covering the cost of resettling refugees across the UK.

3 Sep 2019