Vol­un­teers sought to wel­come refugees

The Oban Times - - THE OBAN TIMES & WEST HIGHLAND TIMES -

VOL­UN­TARY Ac­tion Lochaber (VAL) is re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers to sup­port and wel­come refugee fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als to Lochaber.

Four fam­i­lies from Syria are ex­pected to ar­rive in Scot­land in early spring and be housed in Kin­lochleven.

Lochaber res­i­dents, par­ents and com­mu­nity group rep­re­sen­ta­tives are be­ing in­vited to a sec­ond com­mu­nity meet­ing in Kin­lochleven, hosted by The High­land Syr­ian Re­set­tle­ment Part­ner­ship.

The meet­ing will be held on Mon­day Fe­bru­ary 6 at 6.30pm in Kin­lochleven High School hall. Peo­ple at­tend­ing will meet those in­volved in the part­ner­ship in­clud­ing the High­land Coun­cil, Po­lice Scot­land, NHS High­land, Vol­un­tary Ac­tion Lochaber, Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions, and High Life High­land.

Vol­un­teers will work with fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als for at least a cou­ple of hours once a week for eight to 12 weeks shortly af­ter their ar­rival. Vol­un­teers will need to com­mit to a two- day train­ing ses­sion on Fe­bru­ary 24 and 25 and a min­i­mum of one refugee sup­port pro­gramme of ap­prox­i­mately two hours ses­sions over eight to 12 weeks from March 2017.

Coun­cil­lor Thomas MacLen­nan, who chaired the first pub­lic meet­ing, said: ‘My opin­ion is that by the end of the last meet­ing more peo­ple were in favour than against them com­ing. There were a smaller num­ber who re­acted neg­a­tively, but the more vo­cal ma­jor­ity were open and wel­com­ing.’

Look­ing to Mon­day’s meet­ing, coun­cil­lor MacLen­nan said he hopes the out­come will be pos­i­tive and that the com­mu­nity will con­tinue to be pos­i­tive so that ‘these peo­ple who have come from good­ness knows where will be wel­comed and live their lives here in peace’.

Wel­com­ing the Syr­i­ans into our com­mu­ni­ties is also a pri­or­ity for Skye, Lochaber and Bade­noch MSP Kate Forbes.

She in­vited ex­pe­ri­enced Syr­ian refugee co- or­di­na­tor Bruma Kadletz to speak at Holy­rood about her first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the plight of Syr­i­ans flee­ing their war-torn coun­try and try­ing to set up new lives in places like Kin­lochleven.

Miss Forbes said: ‘I hope this will give MSPs and staff an in­sight into the sto­ries be­hind the photographs.’

To down­load a vol­un­teer role de­scrip­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion form, visit val­ochaber.org or call 01397 706044 to ar­range for a form to be posted out.

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