Planning is underway to help a further two families from war-ravaged Syria build new lives in Orkney.
The young families are currently living in refugee camps in the Middle East having fled their own homes during the Syrian conflict.
In 2017, two Syrian families moved to Orkney after the Home Office took up an offer from Orkney Islands Council to provide accommodation as part of a UK-wide resettlement programme.
Last year, the Council agreed to offer homes to two further families in support of the country-wide humanitarian effort. Two properties in Kirkwall will be provided when the new families arrive in the coming months.
Local volunteers will be needed to help the families settle in and get used to living in a community very different to their own.
Arabic speakers, people qualified to teach ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), and people without a qualification but who could help with conversation practice are required in particular.
To find out more about volunteering and to volunteer your services, please contact Rob McGregor at Voluntary Action Orkney by phone 01856 872897 or by email.
Frances Troup, the Council’s Head of Housing, Homelessness and School Care Accommodation Services, said: “As in 2017, a number of local organisations are working together to make sure we are best placed to support our new families and help ensure they feel welcome and safe.
“The efforts of volunteers played a big role in helping our first families settle in to their new lives in our community. Everyone involved will be very grateful if people extend a similar helping hand this time as well.”
Under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, now known as the Syrian Resettlement Programme, the Government has made a commitment to resettle 20,000 people from refugee camps in communities across the UK by 2020.
The scheme gives priority to people in greatest need, including those who have survived torture and violence, and women and children at risk. People often live in refugee camps for years and many children have lived their entire lives in such precarious circumstances.
A web page provided by The Orkney Partnership has information on the Syrian Resettlement Programme.