CAMBRIDGE city councillors have committed to resettling more refugees in the city when a government scheme reopens.
The council was one of the first authorities in the East of England to respond to the government call in 2015 for councils to help to resettle 20,000 mainly 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 Refugee Resettlement Scheme but was able to more than double that number in three years, assisted by offers of private rented and housing association properties in and near Cambridge.
The council worked closely with faith groups and voluntary organisations to resettle the refugees.
Cllr Nicky Massey, Executive Councillor for Transport and Community Safety: “Cambridge has already achieved a tremendous amount to date in offering resettlement and support for 116 refugees.
“The council has worked closely with a number of partners including Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign, faith groups, other volunteer groups and also South Cambridgeshire District Council, in offering homes to refugees in the city and in the surrounding area.
“It’s clear we have been successful by acting together with others and it follows that in setting any new, ambitious target, we will need to rely on the generosity and commitment of a range of individuals and organisations, including nearby local authorities, housing associations and the city’s amazing community and voluntary sector.
“We will also need to rely on government reopening the Home Office Refugee Resettlement Scheme, as this is the only mechanism by which refugees from abroad can lawfully be resettled.
“Our ambition is for Cambridge to extend its commitment in being a city of sanctuary and welcome more refugees to share our diverse city with us.
“Once the government scheme opens again, we will aim to help resettle a further 200 refugees in five years from when the scheme restarts.
“We commit to playing our part and we call on other councils, housing associations and private landlords to join us in whatever they can do to make this ambitious target a reality.”
Cllr Massey added: “We are proud that Cambridge has been able to provide a safe haven for people who have fled from fighting and unimaginable difficulties in their home countries.”
A ‘Reaching our Milestone’ event was held at Storey’s Field Centre, on Friday 25 January 2019 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 commitment was made at a meeting of the full council yesterday (22 October). A petition on resettling refugees was presented at the meeting: https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3778