Wolverhampton to take 100 Syrian refugees under expanded scheme
One hundred Syrian refugees will come to Wolverhampton under an expanded Government resettlement scheme, with the first to arrive later this year.
The city's council has committed to taking in the refugees driven from the war-torn nation over the next five years.
It is part of a Whitehall-led initiative called Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme which will see 20,000 refugees resettled in the country.
In Walsall, council bosses agreed to take in 20 over the 10 months since last July, while in Staffordshire, 51 refugees have already been resettled.
Last night, a spokesman for Wolverhampton council confirmed the authority would take in 100 refugees by 2020 under the scheme. It is planned that 20 refugees are resettled in the city each year, for the next five years.
Council leader Roger Lawrence said: "I'd hope the refugees receive the traditional welcome people have historically when they arrive in this city from all across the world."
Mr Lawrence said the number of refugees was worked out to reflect the size of Wolverhampton compared to the rest of the UK, which will take in the 20,000. He said the first group would arrive within the next three months. He said: "The Government has agreed to take in 20,000. Wolverhampton has about half of one per cent of the population of the UK, so 100 reflects our size.
"We feel we should do our bit. The Government has made the commitment and asked local authorities to help them – we are taking on our share of the numbers."
Councillor Lawrence said support would be provided to the families and he hoped they would contribute to communities.
The refugees will be settled across the city in accommodation leased by a supported accommodation provider, the council. The refugees will be mainly families with children. Councils taking part in the scheme have to show they have suitable accommodation for at least 12 months.
Under guidelines set by the Government, officers must consider the availability of school places, health provision and the property marketing when deciding on the number of refugees to take in.
Under the scheme, the council will receive £8,520 per refugees accepted, plus £4,500 to provide education for every child aged five to 18 years. Further funding is available to the council for each refugee, starting with £5,000 for a refugee's second year, and ending with £1,000 for the fifth year.
Last month, it was announced more than 4,000 refugees arrived in Britain under the scheme.
Ministers committed to take in the refugees following a public outcry over the fate of those attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
In November, Wolverhampton was designated a 'city of sanctuary'.
The sanctuary status means that it is committed to welcome asylum seekers. Wolverhampton council joined others, including Birmingham and Coventry, in becoming part of the national movement.
The resolution passed by councillors also included pledges to promote the positive contribution migrants make to the social, cultural and community life of the city.
Alvine Dongmo-Noumey came to the UK from Africa, escaping domestic abuse and political discrimination.
She first arrived in Cardiff 10 years ago before moving to Wolverhampton, where she now lives with her five children.
The 36-year-old runs Alzec Vision, which assists asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the West Midlands.
She said: "For me, Wolverhampton is a welcome place for refugees and asylum seekers. It is a safe place to be.
"There is also good support from the council, but people are also friendly."