Refugee re­set­tle­ment tak­ing shape

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times -

LOCHABER ser­vices are gear­ing up to give a warm wel­come to four Syr­ian refugee fam­i­lies ar­riv­ing in Kin­lochleven in early spring, writes El­lie Forbes.

A sec­ond in­for­ma­tion evening was held in Kin­lochleven High School on Mon­day with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous bod­ies pro­vid­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the re­set­tle­ment pro­gramme.

The re­cruit­ing process for three po­si­tions at the Kin­lochleven cam­pus is un­der way. Two pupil sup­port as­sis­tants will be ap­pointed, as well as an ad­di­tional lan­guage teacher.

Heather Thom­son, head teacher at Kin­lochleven Pri­mary School, said: ‘The school is well-placed to give a warm wel­come to the chil­dren.’

She added that vis­its to the pri­mary school in Al­ness, where four Syr­ian refugee fam­i­lies have been re­set­tled, had taken place to see how they have suc­cess­fully in­te­grated the chil­dren.

Flora McKee, from Vol­un­tary Ac­tion Lochaber (VAL) re­ported 13 peo­ple had come for­ward to help wel­come the refugees but more were still needed for about two to three hours work a week.

Dis­cussing hous­ing, Sandra MacLen­nan, said four prop­er­ties were be­ing pre­pared. She said: ‘We have a very ex­pe­ri­enced Lochaber hous­ing team, but we are learn­ing. We need to learn how to deal with peo­ple who have fled per­se­cu­tion and war, and we re­ally need the com­mu­nity to help us.’

Man­ager of adult learn­ing at High Life High­land (HLH), Mike Jones, en­cour- aged a sim­ple smile to help wel­come the refugees. HLH, which will be help­ing the Syr­i­ans learn English, said learn­ing the lan­guage would be key.

PC Katy Duncan will be a point of con­tact be­tween the fam­i­lies and the po­lice. She said the emer­gency ser­vices hope to hold a tre­ble nine event where fire, po­lice and am­bu­lance ser­vices would get to­gether to of­fer the fam­i­lies ‘guid­ance and sup­port’ for which ser­vice they will re­quire in an emer­gency, how they do this and, de­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, when to call 999 or 101.

Coun­cil­lor Thomas MacLen­nan, who chaired the meet­ing, said: ‘I think the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are in favour of the refugees com­ing to Kin­lochleven and wish them well.’

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