Malvern hosts refugee resettlement conference

A refugee resettlement conference, the first of its kind in the country, has been held in Malvern.

The event took place on Monday, 16 November, and was hosted by Malvern Hills District Council and The British Red Cross.

It brought together senior officials from councils, housing associations, the NHS and voluntary groups from across the West Mercia area, to discuss the challenges and opportunities involved with resettling refugees.

The event was addressed by a number of key speakers including Akoi Bazzie, a refugee from Liberia who arrived in Britain in 2004 after spending 12 years in a refugee camp in Guinea.

Worcestershire County Council and the six district councils across the county have agreed to support a bid to take Syrian refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (SVPR) scheme, subject to full five year funding and the support of partner organisations.

Details of funding for the SVPR scheme are expected to be announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn statement on 25 November.

If Worcestershire did decide to proceed with a bid then it would be included in phase two of the scheme, meaning refugees would not arrive until sometime next year.

Cllr Melanie Baker, portfolio holder for planning and housing on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “It was a very productive conference and highlighted the vast amount of work that needs to be done to ensure we can offer the appropriate support to refugees should they be resettled here in Malvern.

“This issue continues to be at the forefront of our minds and talks are taking place with our partners all the time.

“What we now need is clarity regarding funding and we hope we will receive that when the Chancellor makes his Autumn Statement on 25 November.”