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Richmond Council is looking for more residents, businesses or other organisations who could help provide a secure and safe home for Syrian refugees resettling in London.

To date, Richmond upon Thames has successfully welcomed six families under the Government scheme to resettle vulnerable refugees from UN camps. Given the waiting lists for social housing, other families can only be brought to safety if private lets are found.

Under the scheme, homes need to be self-contained, have at least two bedrooms and be available on an assured shorthold tenancy for a minimum of 24 months. Rent levels would need to be set within the limits of the local housing allowance. These requirements are designed to ensure incoming families have the security and space that they need.

Participating landlords can benefit from:

  • Payment of rent & council tax from the date a property becomes available
  • An upfront incentive of £2500 - £3500 plus 6 weeks rent (size-dependent)
  • Rent paid direct to landlord by government, at housing allowance rates
  • Long-term tenancies of 2-5 years, using Standard AST Agreements
  • No letting fees if dealing direct with the Council
  • Council acts as guarantor and provides all necessary support to the family

Richmond Council will provide a range of help and support to refugee families, including a dedicated case worker to help them settle into the local community, access benefits, employment and local services like schools and doctors.

Individuals or organisations providing homes for refugees could be assured of long term, secure and well supported tenants.

The local authority also provides homes for unaccompanied refugee children from Syria and other parts of the world.

Cllr Liz Jaeger, Vice Chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Committee, said:

“The disastrous situation in Syria has created a refugee crisis of biblical proportions. Richmond cannot solve that problem, but we can express our open and humanitarian nature by taking families who are in the most need.

“I am proud that we have managed to help six families however, I am hopeful that others will come forward with offers of homes they wish to rent to Richmond Council to take more such families.”

For those who would like to offer their help in other ways, a British Red Cross Helpline has been set up to help direct offers of support from the public to appropriate organisations. The helpline number is 0800 107 8727.

Other humanitarian and relief agencies that would welcome support include:

  • British Red Cross Appeal
  • Oxfam
  • Save the Children’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal
  • UNHCR’s Emergency Appeal
  • UNICEF
  • The World Food Programme

The Government has provided comprehensive information on how UK residents can help refugees, at: www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-refugees-what-you-can-do-to-help–2

Several charities and organisations are working with refugees across the UK. To find out more about volunteering opportunities in the local area visit the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

People who want to help can also contact the Refugee Council, the British Red Cross or Refugee Action to find out more about volunteering to support asylum seekers and refugees already in the UK.

– from a Richmond Council press release - 18 February 2020