A proposal to support an additional 15 families – up to 80 refugees – a year was approved at Cabinet last week under a new UK Resettlement Scheme, funded by the Home Office, and coordinated by Bristol City Council’s Syrian Resettlement Team.
Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Bristol is rightly very proud to be a city of sanctuary. People fleeing from conflict have made their home here for hundreds of years. Through the Government schemes, we have supported nearly 400 refugees in the last few years and are committed to keeping our door open to people from other parts of the world, people who may need urgent help – in many cases, to receive life-saving medical treatment.
“We know many children and adults would not be here today if they had not been offered a home in our city. We provide a holistic package of support for families including help related to health, education, language and job opportunities.
“The resettlement of refugees in Bristol comes at no extra cost to the city. All we ask is for people to continue to be welcoming neighbours.”
Since 2015, Bristol City Council has welcomed 398 refugees through the Government funded Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), the Resettlement of Vulnerable Children scheme (VCRS) and the Community Sponsorship Scheme.
The schemes encourage local authorities to voluntarily provide sanctuary to refugees identified as being in greatest need of protection, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk.
Refugees families are supported financially for five years and are then able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, meaning there is no longer a time limit on their ability to stay in the UK.
Wafa, who was born in Sudan and relocated to Egypt, moved to Bristol via the VCRS scheme in 2019 with her husband Abuzar and son Basel, who has a spinal injury. She gave birth to her daughter Anne in Bristol last year.
Wafa said: “We were really struggling as a family before coming to the UK. But now Bristol really feels like home. We’ve been given a lot of support and feel very welcome by everyone, including the council, friends and neighbours. My husband has been able to start his education again, studying a Masters in Food Technology, and I’m training to be a dentist.
“The programme has offered us a new life and helped us get Basel into education and support with his healthcare. We now want to help others who are going through the same thing and share our experiences.”
The VPRS and VCRS schemes end in spring 2021 and will be replaced by the UK Resettlement Scheme which aims to resettle 5,000 refugees in 2021/2022. The Community Sponsorship Scheme will continue to run alongside the new scheme.
The Government has pledged to continue to support the resettlement schemes for a minimum of a year (up to spring 2022). Government decisions on the number of refugees to be resettled in subsequent years will be determined through future spending rounds.
Find out more about Bristol’s resettlement schemes on the council website.
See full details on the decision by Cabinet here.