Norfolk has pledged to resettle a total of 150 vulnerable Syrian refugees over the next few years. So the aim of the scheme is to foster independence and integrate people in their local community.
The project team currently works with over 60 volunteers from the local community and provides a range of training to underpin and support their input. Volunteers help to prepare and furnish properties prior to arrival of the refugees. Much of the furniture was obtained th roughpublic appeals. After the Syrian families arrive, volunteers provide befriending support in the community, support with English language classes, child care provision, community cohesion and integration.
Refugees arrive in small groups of about five families at a time and are welcomed and settled in to their new homes.
Assistance from other statutory and voluntary sector organisations, including Norwich CCG provides a comprehensive response to help refugees get the best start on rebuilding their lives. They attend a three-week intensive induction programme, with presentations helping to explain about living in the UK, together with registration with GPs, utility companies, opening bank accounts and similar tasks. As a result all the families have settled in well and are enjoying their new life in Norwich. The school-age children are attending school and are doing well.
An intensive programme of English lessons for adult refugees is delivered through Norfolk Community Learning Services and is designed to give maximum opportunity to learn English quickly, to gain greater independence. The programme delivers 16 hours of learning per week and is closely linked with crèche provision to care for small children whilst their parents concentrate on English. Attendance is currently around 90% and volunteers also help and support in the classroom as well as finding informal opportunities to practice. An additional benefit from the programme has been to run an ESOL for Driving Theory course, devised specifically to help learners work towards obtaining a GB Driving Licence, courses in basic ICT and also preparing for employment to increase their independence.
To help families settle here, Norwich CCG designed and provided information in the form of leaflets which were produced with expert assistance from staff at CityReach.