A newly-formed task group made up of senior officers from partner organisations in Leeds is set to meet next week to discuss how the city can best support plans to accommodate more refugees affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
Leeds City Council underlined its long-held commitment last week to continue to support and provide sanctuary and safety to those people fleeing conflicts in the region, and the aim of the task group is to ensure the best possible response is in place to help those additional refugees who will be arriving in the city following the government announcement earlier this week. The task group will be led by the council’s assistant chief executive James Rogers and will be 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.
As a ‘City of Sanctuary’, 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. Over the course of the last year the council has also signed up to the government’s voluntary Afghan and Syrian relocation schemes, which has resulted in the first families to be relocated to Leeds as part of both of these initiatives arriving over the last few months. The task group will now consider what additional arrangements need to be in place to support more refugees being accommodated in the city.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“The response from a wide range of partners, groups and organisations in Leeds asking how they can help those refugees fleeing conflicts in areas of the Middle East such as Syria has been overwhelming, which underlines what a welcoming and compassionate city we are.
“In order to ensure that we are in a position to help those refugees who desperately need our help and also assist those who will possibly be arriving in Leeds in the near future, a task group featuring partner organisations and groups has been formed to ensure the best possible strategic and joined-up response is in place.
“We are still awaiting firm details from the government following their announcement earlier in the week on how they see local authorities helping to support up to 20,000 refugees from Syria arriving in the UK over the next five years. In the meantime however, we remain absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to provide any support that we can to help those affected by this terrible humanitarian crisis.”
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 activities – Leeds 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 0113- 395 2434.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578