Bute will wel­come Syr­ian fam­i­lies be­fore Christ­mas

The Oban Times - - News -

A GROUP of fam­i­lies flee­ing war-torn Syria will ar­rive in Ar­gyll and Bute be­fore Christ­mas.

This first group will travel to Bute, where ac­com­mo­da­tion will be pro­vided by Ar­gyll Com­mu­nity Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and Fyne Homes.

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil Provost Len Scoullar, who lives on Bute, said: ‘Peo­ple in Ar­gyll and Bute are known for their warmth and friend­li­ness, as has been proved by the huge of­fers of sup­port al­ready shown in com­mu­ni­ties across the area for those seek­ing refuge from Syria.

‘Peo­ple on Bute have stepped for­ward to of­fer skills and ser­vices they have to make the fam­i­lies feel wel­come and to help them set­tle in.

‘This will be in­valu­able for the fam­i­lies who must be feel­ing in­cred­i­bly vul­ner­a­ble and con­fused.

‘Our fam­i­lies – and I al­ready feel com­fort­able call­ing them our fam­i­lies – are all cur­rently in the Le­banon and, to­gether with the agen­cies work­ing over­seas, we have been very care­ful to match their ex­pe­ri­ence and skills with those in our own com­mu­ni­ties.

Hope­fully this should make it eas­ier for them to find em­ploy­ment.

‘ We are cur­rently putting in place the ar­range­ments for the sup­port on the is­land for the first few weeks of ar­rival and this will in­clude in­ter­preters, health, ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing ser­vices, and we will be tak­ing up the many and very gen­er­ous of­fers of sup­port from the com­mu­nity.

‘There is a very de­tailed project plan that cov­ers th­ese ar­range­ments and makes use of the huge range of sup­port of­fered by com­mu­ni­ties.’

The Ar­gyll and Bute Refugee Re­set­tle­ment Group, made up of Coun­cil of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity plan­ning part­ners work­ing with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, the Home Of­fice and COSLA, is mak­ing ar­range­ments for where fam­i­lies will live, and for meet­ing other ba­sic re­quire­ments. The group is chaired by Cle­land Sned­don, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices and the work is be­ing co­or­di­nated by Morag Brown, busi­ness im­prove­ment man­ager.

Since news of the fam­i­lies’ ar­rival was first con­firmed, lo­cal peo­ple and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions across Ar­gyll and Bute have been reg­is­ter­ing the sup­port and skills they can of­fer in a newly set up ‘skills bank’ which col­lects in­for­ma­tion and con­tact de­tails.

The skills bank, set up by the Ar­gyll and Bute com­mu­nity plan­ning part­ner­ship, will pro­vide a cen­tral con­tact point for any­one wish­ing to help, and will match the help on of­fer to the men, women or chil­dren who need it.

If you have goods, skills or other prac­ti­cal help you would like to of­fer fam­i­lies, please visit http://www.ar­gyll-bute.gov.uk/ar­gyll-and- butewel­comes-refugees, email morag. brown@ar­gyll- bute.gov.uk or call 01546 604199 for more in­for­ma­tion.

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