Campaigners welcome move to resettle a second refugee family in East Devon
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Calls for more private landlords to come forward and support efforts to re-home those forced to flee war-torn Syria
Campaigners have welcomed news that a second refugee family could soon be resettled in East Devon – but have called for more landlords to come forward.
The district council revealed it has made the Home Office an offer of accommodation to re-house displaced people who have fled war-torn Syria, and confirmed the relevant authorities continue to seek suitable properties.
Meanwhile, Ottery St Mary-based grass-roots group, ABIDE, which took the initiative to set up a community sponsorship scheme, has now smashed its target of £10,000 thanks to generous contributions.
District councillor Matt Booth represents the Sidmouth ward and said the step towards fulfilling a pledge in May 2016 - to house five to 10 families under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVRP) - is encouraging. He added: “In light of the real problem with a shortage of council and affordable housing in Sidmouth, however, it is important the message is clear about the scheme and how it works. The problem is a lack of commercial landlords making properties available and I back the call of the Ottery group and East Devon District Council (EDDC) officers to find more suitable houses to accommodate more families.”
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Trevor Leahong, of the Ottery Refugee Response Group, welcomed the fact EDDC is set to settle a second Syrian refugee family and expressed a wish to support the authority in fulfilling its commitment to take more families in.
He added: “We are concerned about the lack of progress in achieving this target given the vast number of Syrian families living in appalling conditions in camps in the Middle East and elsewhere.
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“Having spoken to a number of local estate agents and relevant landlords’ associations, we believe that there are opportunities to find suitable accommodation if the request for housing is publicised more widely, if the terms offered to agents and landlords are attractive enough and if sufficient effort is put into working with them. We would urge EDDC to revamp its approach in these areas in order to meet the target.
“We are also supporting the ABIDE community sponsorship scheme in Ottery. This is a community project overseen by Ottery Parish Church to sponsor the resettlement of a Syrian refugee family in the local area through a new Home Office initiative.”
The £10,000 raised by the community is kept in a restricted fund by the parish church to go towards the cost of supporting a refugee family for a two-year period.
An EDDC spokeswoman said: “We have made an offer to the Home Office of accommodation for a second family. We are now awaiting the Home Office to take up that offer and to nominate a family. The council is part of the Devon-wide joint group, which is working together on issues such as how to attract more home owners to put forward properties for the scheme. We are currently looking for more suitable properties to house refugees and are keen to hear from landlords who would be interested in learning how they can help families who have already moved over here.”
Anyone who can offer assistance or accommodation to EDDC can call 01395 517469 or email email@example.com