Purpose: To provide an update and progress report on refugee resettlement in North Yorkshire relating to the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme and Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
Considered – A report of the Assistant Director - Policy, Partnerships and Communities providing an update and progress report on refugee resettlement in North Yorkshire, relating to the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme and Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
Neil Irving, Assistant Director - Policy, Partnerships and Communities presented the report and provided an overview of the background to, and an update on:
· The various individual schemes that made up the UKRS i.e. those for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and the Ukraine;
· The Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), for refugees regardless of their nationality but specifically children at risk and their families from the Middle East and North Africa region;
· The three community sponsorship schemes in place across North Yorkshire;
· The UK-wide welcome programme to support the integration of new arrivals from Hong Kong
Members queried the numbers resettled to date in each District, as shown in the table within the report, and it was confirmed that a rather than taking a scattered approach, the focus had been on a specific District at a time with the intention of ensuring the supporting facilities for refugees could be provided in the areas in which they were settled. It was recognised this would provide those refugees with the necessary support and opportunities for self-help that were required.
It was confirmed that a decision was still awaited about the potential use of the former RAF base at Linton on Ouse for the initial settlement of Ukrainian refugees. It was also noted that weekly meetings were being held with the Home Office and other appropriate organisations e.g. the NHS.
· 90% of the Syrian refugees had remained in the county with the remaining families moving to be closer to extended family members;
· The was a balance to be reached between integration and staying within their own communities;
· County Council resources were not necessary as Home Office support was provided through an agreed contractor;
In regard to the challenges, it was confirmed:
· Finding accommodation was always the biggest issue;
· Some difficulties with the Ukrainian Refugee Scheme as a result of there being no information on the refugees coming into the County ahead of their arrival, and not knowing who has arrived until a sponsor informs the Authority – members noted that whilst there was a Home Office database of those applying for a visa, the data was not always accurate and not all of them subsequently arrived as they often applied to more than one country and took the first offer they received;
· There were a small number of Ukrainian refugees who were entirely dependent on their sponsors as a result of the rurality of where there were housed and the lack of public transport;
· The degree of trauma experienced by some refugees;
Attention was drawn to those volunteer groups who were unable to provide housing but did want to provide other types of support to the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, and it was confirmed they could volunteer via HFU@northyorks.gov.uk
Resolved – That the update be noted