Refugees welcome: Kettering to take in family from war-torn Syria

Syrian refugees watch the battle from across the border in Turkey.
Syrian refugees watch the battle from across the border in Turkey.

A vulnerable Syrian refugee family will move to Kettering thanks to the efforts of volunteers and authorities.

Kettering Refugee Assistance (KRA) - a group of local people wanting to help those caught up in conflict - is working with the Government, Kettering Council and Northamptonshire County Council as part of a scheme to move a family from a refugee camp in the Middle East to the town.

Under the community sponsorship of refugees programme they will be housed and helped to gain access to health services, school places and English classes and integrated in our society.

Kettering Refugee Assistance chairman Andrew Dutton said: "The families concerned have lost their homes in Syria during a brutal conflict and now have nowhere safe to return to in their own country.

"They have often spent years in refugee camps living in cramped and heartbreaking circumstances.

"Members of KRA have already raised significant funds to support this work and are looking for a house to lease for the next two years."

The Syrian civil war began in 2011 and is the second deadliest of the 21st Century.

Millions have had to flee their country to seek refuge with about two per cent of the country's population killed, many of them children.

The family coming to Kettering will be selected by a commission and their application to come to the UK will be looked at by the Home Office to make sure they are not a security threat.

Volunteers from KRA, which recently became a charitable organisation, will then help them adjust to their new way of life and learn about our culture.

The family will have the right to work in the UK and claim state benefits.

Mr Dutton, who is also a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: "Obviously, at a time when money is tight and there are uncertainties about the future there are concerns that this will be a drain on local resources but we’re only talking about one family."

By taking in a family Kettering will play its part in helping the Government reach its target of welcoming 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees by the end of 2020.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone said: “Community sponsorship of refugees is supported by the Government who provide extra funds for school places and health services.

"By taking advantage of this Government-sponsored scheme, through its kind-hearted voluntary efforts Kettering Refugee Assistance will be adding to the huge amount of assistance the UK Government is already providing to the most vulnerable refugees from the terrible, long-running Syrian civil war.

"It’s important that genuine refugees are assisted both to flee the conflict whilst it is ongoing and then given the chance to return to their homeland once the conflict is over so as to rebuild their country.”

Mr Dutton added: "One of the great strengths of KRA is that we are local people from different backgrounds and beliefs who are united in wanting to help in a small way to relieve the suffering of innocent people caught up in a brutal civil war."

Kettering Refugee Assistance is holding its first AGM as a charitable organisation at 7.30pm on October 1 in Quaker Meeting House in Northall Street. They have invited anyone wanting to find out more to attend or visit www.kettra.org.uk,