Leeds ,

Executive board to consider proposal recommending Leeds welcome 200 refugees from Syria

An update on how Leeds is responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is set to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

As part of a report submitted to a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 23 September, members have a chance to consider and discuss a wide range of migration and refugee issues relating to the city.

Subject to receiving confirmation from the government on their specific proposals around the issue, a recently formed city task force given the brief of coordinating the city’s response to the crisis, has recommended that Leeds should seek to take up to 200 refugees from Syria over the course of the next two years. Having assessed the situation and the potential impact on Leeds, this number is felt by partners on the task force to not only underline the city’s commitment and status as a ‘City of Sanctuary’, but is also considered to be a manageable number in meeting requirements on issues such as accommodation, schooling and health needs.

Additional costs associated in welcoming additional refugees to Leeds will be met through a specific grant by the government in the same way that other refugees have been accommodated in Leeds over recent months. The council is an established member of the Asylum Dispersal Programme which has already provided asylum seekers and refugees with a range of support from the city over a number of years.

To view the full executive board report, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s137003/Migration%20and%20Refugee%20Cover%20Report%20150915.pdf

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“While we are still waiting to hear from the government on how they specifically see local authorities helping refugees trying to escape conflicts in the Middle East such as Syria, we have been very keen to ensure that when the details are confirmed, Leeds is ready and able to act as soon as possible.

“The creation of a city task force was a key part in ensuring that our response as a city would be both structured and coordinated. This work has helped inform a view that Leeds should offer to take up to 200 refugees from Syria over the course of the next two years, which I fully support.

“The response and offers of assistance from the people of Leeds to this terrible crisis has been simply overwhelming, and as a compassionate city which also has City of Sanctuary status, we are determined to do everything in our power to help those people desperately in need of our help.”

Anyone in Leeds who would like to do something to help with the refugee crisis can do so through a number of organisations in the city working with refugees and asylum seekers who rely on the goodwill and generosity of the public:

  • Donations - for direct support to destitute asylum seekers, with food, clothing and money donations – main contact PAFRAS - 0113 262 2163, www.pafras.org.uk. Also Meeting Point in Armley, https://meetingpointleeds.wordpress.com/
  • Volunteer - help with English lessons in refugees’ homes, or provide a room in your home for a destitute asylum seeker to sleep for a day or two. LASSN www.lassn.org.uk
  • Other welcoming activitiesLeeds City of Sanctuary co-ordinate activities to make Leeds more welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers, see their website https://leeds.cityofsanctuary.org/. It includes a link to ‘Here are 6 things you can do to help refugees if you live in Leeds’.
  • For more information about helping refugees around the region you can also contact Migration Yorkshire at admin@migrationyorkshire.org.uk 0113- 395 2434.

Notes to editors:

The task group formed to consider what additional arrangements need to be in place to support more refugees being accommodated in the city met for the first time this week and is made up of a range of organisations and partners. The group is led by the council’s assistant chief executive James Rogers and attended by key representatives from Leeds City Council, the NHS, Migration Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Police and the Leeds Migration Partnership, who are representing third-sector groups in the city.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk