Wales

Cardigan residents' bid to re-house Syrian refugees

Syria poster in Brynberian

Communities across Wales desperate to help displaced Syrian refugees are raising money to fund the resettlement of families themselves.

One group in Cardigan, Ceredigion, has raised £12,000 as part of its application to the Home Office's community sponsorship scheme.

The money will be used to help the families set up home and find work.

Vicky Moller, who started the group, said residents were so keen to help they took matters into their own hands.

All councils in Wales have now resettled Syrian families with more than 400 people taken in under the UK government's Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

It followed criticism of councils over the speed at which they were housing people.

Across the UK, more than 5,400 people have been resettled.

Image caption Vicky Moller said people in Cardigan had been overwhelmingly positive about the group's plans
Image caption The group started with meetings at Brynberian Community Centre in nearby Pembrokeshire

There are about 13 community groups already sponsoring or looking to sponsor families across Wales, including ones in Fishguard and Narberth in neighbouring Pembrokeshire.

They are in contact with their local authorities but are totally independent and self-funded.

Ms Moller said the Cardigan group were looking to buy a house to help with refugees' accommodation needs with the hope of welcoming their first families in the autumn.

She said: "Through groups of neighbours, communities [are] making a plan to integrate people, raising money, finding homes, welcoming them at the airport, showing them how to use the doctors and the bus.

"There's a huge longing by people in the area I live in to do this. People are very, very keen to help."

Image copyright Chris Downer/Geograph
Image caption The Cardigan group hopes to welcome two families in the autumn

The group, which featured in BBC Wales's Strangers in a Strange Land programme, invited already-settled refugees from Cardiff to demonstrate what their community could offer and to learn what they needed to provide.

Among them was former surgeon Hussam, who has now been granted asylum after fleeing Syria in 2014.

He said while there may be a number of barriers facing refugees who move to rural areas instead of cities, he was confident they could be overcome.

He said: "It could be challenging as many are Arabic speaking Muslims, we eat Halal food that would be hard to get in the countryside.

"And I think the people here have not had the experience with multicultural environment so this would be difficult but I think they will overcome this."

  • Strangers in a Strange Land: Episode Two is available to watch on BBC iplayer.

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