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Frome welcomes refugees! New group hopes to help displaced Syrians

AGROUP of local people are hoping to team up with local authorities to offer their help in welcoming refugees to the area.

The Syrian Refugee Support Group is formed of local residents, who last month went before Frome Town Council to express their desire to help.

Group founder John Careswell said, “Our  objective is to welcome Syrian refugees to Frome and the surrounding area, and support them in an effective and open-hearted manner.

“We want to encourage Frome Town Council to link with other local authorities throughout Britain, to prove there is a capacity and a willingness to help Syrian refugees re-settle in Britain – far in excess of the meagre numbers the UK government has currently approved.

“We don’t want to forget vulnerable people everywhere, including in our own community, but rather than getting bogged down in debates about net immigration figures and impact on our economy, we want to show that policies can sometimes by driven by something else; our common humanity.  There is every indication that many people in Britain feel the same.

“We are not trying to ‘go it alone’.  We believe a vital first step is to work in partnership with Frome Town Council, Mendip District Council and Somerset County Council who will each have different roles and responsibilities for refugees.

“Mendip District Council will wait for directives from the Home Office, but  officials are also receptive to “bottom up” proposals, where communities are prepared to make their own practical suggestions of how they would help re-settle refugees.  Glastonbury and Wells have groups similar to Frome, working along these lines.

“On a practical level, the Syrian Refugee Support Group here in Frome is preparing to act as a coordinating body, identifying possible employment, housing and other essential supports such as health, trauma counselling and language teaching.

“We have already received many offers from people in Frome willing to support refugees and are creating a database of these offers.

“Meanwhile we want a clear message to go out from Frome Town Council; in the spirit of generosity and open heartedness which characterises this town – Frome welcomes refugees!”

Anyone who would like to contact the group can do so by emailing John on

Community comes together to support refugees

An emergency meeting of the Mendip Migrants Forum was held on Tuesday (22nd September) to discuss the refugee crisis and the district’s response.

Councillors and officers from the district council attended the meeting at the Shape Mendip Hub, alongside representatives from partner agencies, including the police, fire service, Job Centre, charities, health service, local colleges and town councils.

The meeting was chaired by Mendip District Councillor Philip Ham, portfolio holder for transformation. Following the meeting, cllr Ham said, “The forum was extremely well attended and showed how communities across Mendip have come together in readiness to support any refugees that are relocated to the district.

“We are still awaiting information from the government as to whether Mendip will receive any refugees and, if so, how many. However, the meeting of the forum showed that thanks to an incredible community-wide response, we are ready to provide the necessary support and assistance.

“The community response has been fantastic. The council has already received offers of accommodation from local residents, there have been offers to teach English as a foreign language, while the Job Centre is ready to stage special events to help refugees find employment in the local area.

“Local Government has an excellent track record of helping refugees and those in need, and I know we will do so again. There is a lot of goodwill towards refugees from people within the Mendip area, and I know that working with our partners and the local community we will ensure that any refugees who are relocated to Mendip receive the support they so badly need.

“I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support – it really does show how the people of Mendip come together at times of crisis to help those in need.

“We now wait to hear from the government as to whether we will receive any refugees. However, the meeting of the forum has shown that we are ready and well prepared to offer help and assistance as soon as we are called upon.”

Since the crisis began, the council has received several generous offers of help from local people wishing to provide refugees with accommodation. While the government is not anticipating the need to accommodate refugees within residents’ private homes, if you wish to offer accommodation, please contact the council on 0300 303 8588 and ask for the Private Sector Housing team. They will take your details and contact you at a later date, should your offer of support be needed.

The government has set up a website which outlines what you can do to help refugees at–2

The British Red Cross has set up a helpline to provide advice to individuals on who to contact if you wish to offer support, other than accommodation, to refugees. The helpline is 0800 107 8727.