Extending a welcome to refugees

ON Monday, I was glad to meet some of my newest constituents and extend a warm welcome to Salisbury.

The Abbara family have travelled to Wiltshire from Syria with support from the UK Government.

I know many of us have been increasingly appalled by the deteriorating situation in Syria, and I believe that as a compassionate society, it is right that we extend shelter and protection to some of the most vulnerable people in the world fleeing conflict and persecution.

I hope that Louai, his son Abdulmajid and his wife will be happy here as they start to build a home.

Improvements can be made for future inductions but Salisbury should be proud of the start we have made.

The fact that their family remains spread over five countries after they fled their business after a massacre in their home area testifies to how desperate their plight is.

I am sure the whole community will make them feel welcome: the Government has pledged to welcome 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020, working with the United Nations to identify those who would benefit the most from relocating to Britain.

The UK Government’s scheme has already provided safe haven to more than 1000 vulnerable Syrians, around half of whom are children.

The Department for International Development has agreed with local councils that their department of government will be funding a support package for the full five years during which refugees will receive humanitarian protection, ensuring that councils are not placed under greater financial pressure for accepting refugees.

I am also proud that Wiltshire has been chosen as a pilot area for a new scheme for people to volunteer their support.

By signing up online at help-refugees-uk.service.gov.uk, everyone can offer to help provide community, group and cultural activities, housing, electrical goods and toys and vacant housing.

I hope that over the coming years, we will be able to extend Wiltshire’s hospitality to more deserving families.

I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of John Proctor OBE of Alabare who, alongside many volunteers, has helped ensure our refugees have started out life in Salisbury as smoothly as possible.

Improvements can be made for future inductions but Salisbury should be proud of the start we have made.