Open Call for voluntary ‘Community Support’ for Syrian Refugees in Northern Ireland
Would your organisation like to offer a positive welcome to Syrian Refugees coming to Northern Ireland or specifically to your region?
What is this form about?
This form is for organisations to fill in if they would like to register with Bryson Intercultural – lead partner of the Vulnerable Syrian Refugee Consortium - as an organisation who would like to offer a voluntary / ‘in kind’ community support service to the Syrian Refugees who will be arriving in Northern Ireland within the next few years. In other words – if you think your organisation can help us make refugees feel welcome here, then please fill it in! The Consortium of partner organisations working with the Vulnerable Syrian refugees locally would love to hear from community groups, charities, faith based groups and churches, businesses, sports clubs, schools etc with any relevant offers.
The VPR scheme is based on need. It prioritises those who cannot be supported effectively in their region of origin: women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence. Those accepted through the scheme will be granted five years humanitarian protection status and will have access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion comparable to other refugees. At the end of five years, if individuals are not able to return to Syria, they may be eligible to apply for resettlement in the UK.
Consortium: The Consortium is a Voluntary and Community Sector response designed to meet the objectives as set out in the DfC (Department for Communities) plan for Refugees under VPR. The Consortium will therefore design and deliver their services underpinned by a collaborative approach so as to ensure:
· That Syrian refugees coming to Northern Ireland are treated with respect and dignity upon arrival;
· That within two weeks of arrival essential services from the voluntary and community sector and their statutory partners are provided to newly arrived Syrian refugees in an efficient, effective and sensitive manner;
· That Syrian Refugees are assisted to settle into their new lives in Northern Ireland and successfully integrate into Northern Ireland society;
· In conjunction with central and local government ensure that the general public and in particular those communities that will be called upon to host Refugees are prepared and kept informed of the process.
Consortium partner organisations:
· Bryson Intercultural (lead organisation)
· British Red Cross
· Save the Children
· Law Centre (NI)
· South Belfast Roundtable
Many individuals and community groups have asked how they can help or have offered help – this form is to ensure we keep a clear record of offers of community support and so that we can ensure appropriate safeguarding mechanisms are in place. This is not an appeal for money and anyone wishing to make financial donations can directly contact -
Embrace has established a specific fund to cover emergency costs for electricity, oil and gas payments for the refugees in NI. Importantly it is also not an offer of funding – your offer of community support is entirely voluntary.
Can individuals register?
We are keen that individuals can volunteer, but we also need individuals to understand that because the Syrian refugees are a vulnerable group of people we can only accept offers of community support from constituted or recognised organisations. If you are an individual wishing to volunteer you need to:
1. Find an established organisation who are happy to have you volunteer through them.
2. Be ACCESS NI vetted by the organisation.
Why is the Community Support Scheme being put in place?
The aim of ‘Community Support’ is to provide relevant ways for refugees to feel welcome, understand the local area and find out about local services. It is also for local communities to understand issues around migration and refugees and to have the opportunity to explain their services to refugees.
What type of voluntary Community Support is needed?
· Brand New Basic Supplies and Food – toiletries, soap, nappies, razors, new household goods etc. Baby, toddler and adult essential clean and new items of clothing, coats, shoes, towels, blankets and bed linen. Imperishable food items such as pasta, rice, cooking oil, tinned products etc.
· Vouchers – Those will be allocated by the team of key workers working individually with the families and in accordance to needs e.g. locally accessible supermarket, chemists, etc
Awareness of Local Services – Refugees need to understand how society and its services work. This could be a statutory or community service. Your organisation could come to speak to the refugees about your service or offer to host them to come and see your service eg. Library, community centre, advice services, health and wellbeing etc
· Socialising / Networking – Refugees need places and opportunities to interact in safe settings with each other and with the wider community. Does your organisation have an existing space and small group of people who meet e.g. A coffee morning, a book club, a women’s group, a cooking demonstration?
· Local Cultural Awareness – Refugees need to understand local culture. Could your group offer a free cultural experience or a free visit to a local tourist attraction?
· Apprenticeships/Volunteering- Refugees will come with particular skills and interests for the world of work, but may need support to adjust here. Would your organisation be able to offer a short supportive apprenticeship or volunteering experience?
· Sport, Music, Dance - Is your organisation experienced in this field? Could you offer an hour or two’s activity for adults and youth?
· Facilities- Do you have a large community space that you could offer for free for a day or an evening or weekend to host any of the support/sponsorship activities mentioned
· Transport – Could you offer a bus, buses or mini-buses to help transporting the Syrian refugees (with disability access if possible) eg. to and from events, to accommodation arrangements and in order to help distributing donations etc
This list is not exhaustive or definitive so please feel free to provide any additional form of support or sponsorship that you may be able to provide.
What happens after my organisation registers?
Your registration form will be acknowledged by email. The Consortium coordination will then be compiling a list of the offers of Community Support individually tailored to each group of Syrian refugees arriving through the VPR scheme. Once the refugees have settled in, the Consortium will liaise with them and their designated key workers to show them the community support offers. The interests and needs of the refugees will then be foremost in deciding which offers of community support will be followed up on.
The Consortium cannot offer any guarantee that all offers of community support will be followed up on. It is vital that the needs of this vulnerable group of people are paramount in work developed with them.
A note about safeguarding and insurance*
When you complete the form you will see that you are asked to answer key questions about safeguarding (protection of children and vulnerable adults – please see the official Safeguarding Guidance document on the VPR scheme - appendix 01). It is vitally important that you answer these questions carefully. You must have the relevant insurance and safeguarding systems in place within your organisation before you offer community support.
Who do I contact if I have further queries?
How do I register?
*Adapted from the original form produced by the Derry City and Strabane District Council
Appendix 01 - Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme
Good Practice Charter
The purpose of this guidance is to ensure that the rights of Syrian families to privacy and family life are upheld and that best practice is adhered to by everyone while supporting these families to integrate into NI. The guidance is designed to ensure that the Syrian families coming to NI have the same protections afforded to all vulnerable people and children in NI.
Syrian families are arriving in NI under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. They are by definition vulnerable people in desperate need of assistance and many have significant needs. The scheme requires meticulous planning to get it right and the Syrian people will need the structured support of all who are willing to help
Tremendous good will has been shown to the Syrians by politicians, community organisations and individuals and this is appreciated, however the needs of the Syrian families are paramount in determining the pace of their integration and the level of their integration into NI life. Traditionally, Syrians are a very welcoming and hospitable people but this coupled with the fact that they feel “indebted” to us, as a society, means they are very reluctant to say no to requests or not welcome people into their homes. This is especially true when the requests come from people they view to be in “authority”.
This guidance upholds the commonly agreed principles which underpin a number of safeguarding policies and include: the regional ‘Adult Safeguarding: Prevention and Protection in Partnership’, the “Regional Child Protection Policy and Procedure”, “Standards for Child Protection Services” and the new “Co-operating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland” guidance published 25th March 2016 all of which have been issued by the Department of Health and Social Services and Public Safety.
Safeguarding vulnerable people is everyone’s business; in particular the welfare of the child is paramount.