REPRESENTATIVES from faith groups, voluntary organisations and Cambridge City Council came together with resettled refugee families last week, to mark the achievement of successfully resettling 101 refugees in the city since work began to do so in late 2015.
The ‘Reaching our Milestone’ event, held at Storey’s Field Centre, on Friday 25 January was organised by the council to bring together all those involved in supporting the resettled refugee community, including those people who assisted new arrivals, taught English and provided childcare when needed.
The council was one of the first authorities in the East of England to respond to the government call for councils to help to resettle 20,000 largely Syrian refugees across the UK, fleeing war torn countries including Syria, Iraq and Sudan.
The council initially planned to resettle 50 people as part of the five year Home Office scheme but has been able to more than double that number in three years, assisted by offers of private rented and housing association properties in and near Cambridge.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We are very proud that Cambridge and our community has been able to provide a safe haven for these families and individuals who have fled from fighting and unimaginable difficulties in their home countries.
“We pledged to welcome 100 people as part of the national programme and we have now fulfilled that promise thanks to the great teamwork of so many organisations in our community and council staff determined to make the welcome a success.
“The success of our programme would not have been possible without the generosity and support from well over 100 local people giving freely of their time and expertise.”
Cllr Herbert added: “The arriving refugee families have been enthusiastic in learning English as a second language – attending formal and informal training sessions regularly and developing their fluency.
“They have also been eager to source and secure employment and gain experience through volunteering in order to learn the ways of their new country and to integrate with our welcoming Cambridge community which is a place of sanctuary for people fleeing war.
“Our work, and the work of our partners, does not stop as we now look to continue supporting our new Cambridge residents to settle in and live happy, peaceful lives here given that the conflicts that drove them from their homes may not be resolved for years and years. We will also continue to support a wider advice service to assist other refugees in Cambridge or arriving here.”