February 24, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

New outreach team to help refugees and asylum seekers integrate into Cornish communities

A new team has been formed in Cornwall to help refugees and asylum seekers integrate into and strengthen our communities.

The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Outreach Team is part of Cornwall Council’s wider resettlement service, which is funded by the Home Office.

Due to begin working from mid-May, it comprises five outreach and support workers, most of whom have experience supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and Europe.

Resettling refugees in Cornwall

Nat Mitchell, Refugee and Asylum Seeker Outreach Team Manager, said:

“Refugees are fleeing appalling conditions in their home countries so it is important that we show them compassion and help them feel welcome and supported here in Cornwall. By working closely with refugees and with residents we can help refugees make a positive impact in their new communities.

“We had more than 80 applications to join our team which just goes to show how passionate people in Cornwall are about helping refugees and asylum seekers.”

She added: “My team aims to take a very personal approach, getting out and about and using the wealth of voluntary and statutory services already available to help refugees settle and fulfil their personal goals. Where issues are highlighted we will work closely with partners and residents to find the best solutions for all concerned.

“We are all passionate about helping refugees and asylum seekers strengthen our fabulous and diverse communities and can’t wait to get started!”

The formation of the outreach team comes as numbers of refugee and asylum cases continue to rise nationally with people fleeing not only Ukraine but also countries such as Afghanistan, Albania, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.

They also include Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) who are young people seeking asylum in the UK but who have been separated from their parents or carers.

Cornwall Council has made a commitment with all other South West local authorities to play its part in the resettlement programmes funded by the Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up Communities and Housing.

Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for children and families, said:

“It makes me hugely proud that the Council is being this proactive in helping refugees and asylum seekers.

“Let us not forget that these people are here legally, and we have a duty, both moral and statutory, to help them find some solace away from the harrowing conditions they are trying to leave behind.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe and protected and the Cornish people have always prided themselves on tolerance and inclusivity. So let us all show empathy and compassion to anyone trying to make a new home for themselves here in our fantastic communities.”

Serena Collins, Strategic Lead for the Resettlement Service at Cornwall Council, said:

“I am delighted to be building this new outreach team in Cornwall with a mission to get out into our towns and villages to help refugees and asylum seekers become part of their community. Refugees are skilled people often with expertise that can add to our own rich culture, and we want to enable Cornwall to fully realise the benefits of their arrival.

“We know that misinformation can be used by the minority to heighten ill feelings towards these vulnerable people so we are determined to make sure people are given the facts about resettlement in Cornwall and can see the worth in helping refugees and asylum seekers start a new life in peace and safety.”

The Council will be encouraging residents to embrace National Refugee Week next month (June 19-25) and is holding a conference for partner agencies and organisations to ensure everything is being done to support refugees and asylum seekers in Cornwall. More information on what is planned, and how people can get involved, will be published closer to the time.

If you’d like to get involved, please email ResettlementService@cornwall.gov.uk 

More information on the resettlement service can be found on the Council’s website.

Press release issued on May 16, 2023.

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