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St Helens prepares to help refugees (Press Release September 2015)

St Helens Council has confirmed that it is preparing to identify homes in the borough for asylum seekers and refugees fleeing Syria as part of the UK’s resettlement programme.  Council Leader Barrie Grunewald said: “The humanitarian crisis in Syria is on such a horrific scale that we cannot - and must not - turn our backs on those people.  “It is right that we offer safety and shelter to families who are in such desperate need and in St Helens we fully intend to play our part. We are waiting for the Government to explain just how they also intend to help.”

St Helens Council will work with the Government to identify homes across the borough for refugees arriving in the UK. The council believes that up to 30 homes will need to be found for those fleeing torture and other horrific experiences who are already in the country – while more homes will need to be identified for Syrian refugees who will be supported as part of the Government’s plans to resettle 20,000 people nationally over the next five years. The exact number coming to St Helens will depend on the Government’s national approach to the crisis.

The council is urging the Government to ensure that appropriate financial support is given to local authorities to cover the significant costs involved – especially those relating to placing unaccompanied children in foster care.  Councillor Grunewald said: “We want to play our part in extending the hand of friendship and welcome to the displaced people of Syria. It is right that all local authorities do what they can to support these families and children.

“However there is a significant financial cost to this support. We are calling on the Government to ensure we are properly resourced to give the support needed to help these families integrate into our community and begin to get their lives back together.”

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