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THE HERALD FRIDAY OCTOBER 7 2016


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5 News of UK government


Aberaid and all the other groups that come together in troubled times. Where would we be without them?”


EVEN THE HARDEST HEARTS 10 Conservative MPs have written


Standing room only: A packed Morlan Centre


‘SANCTUARY CEREDIGION’? Only launched in July this year,


the Community Sponsorship scheme enables community groups including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to support resettled refugees in the UK. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said of the scheme: “The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance. This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support. I hope that this new approach will help bring communities together and support these often traumatised and vulnerable families as they rebuild their lives, and contribute to and thrive in our country.” Organisations seeking to become sponsors must be a recognised charity or community interest company. In order to apply for the scheme, they need the consent of the local authority and a comprehensive plan for resettlement. Sponsors will be expected to provide housing for the refugee family, help integrate them into life in the UK, access medical and social services, arrange language tuition and support them towards employment and self-sufficiency. Aberaid are distributing questionnaires asking people in our community what level of commitment that might make to such a scheme. To contact Aberaid and get a copy of their short and very straightforward questionnaire, email aberaidceredigion@gmail.com.


WE MUST DO BETTER Lindsey Cardwell of Aberaid told


The Herald: “I think the event today showed that there is a lot of support locally for more refugees to be bought to Ceredigion. The scale of the crisis is huge and the council and government need to stop procrastinating and step up to the challenge of helping these people. We have a situation where millions of people have had to flee their homes and, so far, Wales has provided homes for around 115 of them. We can, and must, do better. The Community Sponsorship


programme is a great opportunity but, in reality, this help should already be being provided by the government.” Aberaid’s Julie Makin added: “We


had lots of offers of help and support on Saturday, so now it’s a case of going through those and seeing if we feel able to move forward with the scheme. It’s a big commitment and would require a formal structure for Aberaid. Another option is continuing to lobby the council to accept more refugees.” Declining to comment on any


plans to accept more refugees or on the government’s Community Sponsorship scheme, Ceredigion County Council told The Herald: “The Syrian Refugees Task and Finish Group, comprised of organisations from across Ceredigion, has committed to resettle 50 refugees over five years from 2015. As Ceredigion was one of the first counties in the UK to commit to resettle Syrian refugees, all of the organisations represented on the Group have worked very well in partnership together in order to be absolutely certain that all necessary arrangements are in place to be able to welcome these people fully and warmly. The UK government has recently announced that the target of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years has been met in terms of the pledges received from local authorities. Ceredigion is pleased that it is making a proportionate contribution to this achievement.” The event at the Morlan was an


upsetting one for many audience members who were reminded of the extent of the crisis and the very human stories of hardship at its heart. With the Calais camp about to be evicted, the British government set to turn its face away and do nothing, including not responding urgently to the plight of the almost 400 unaccompanied minors who have every right to come to the UK, many people also felt angry. Glynis Somers, wife of Aberystwyth Mayor Brendan Somers, told The Herald: “We both thought that it was a terrific turnout and very emotional to read those figures on the screen. Aberystwyth is a very special place, and time and time again the people will help. I am very proud that I am from this town and I know that Brendan is very proud to be the Mayor. Thank goodness for people like


a joint letter to Amber Rudd calling on her to do more to help vulnerable the unaccompanied child asylum seekers who are living in ‘wretched’ and life-threatening conditions in the Jungle. Included in the group are Nicky Morgan, former Education Secretary, and Tim Loughton, acting Head of the Home Affairs Select Ccommittee. The MPs were responding the death of a 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan. He was killed near Calais when he was hit by a car after falling from a moving lorry as he tried to get into Britain. He was the 13th refugee killed near the port this year, according to charities working in the refugee camp, and he was the third child to die. Reportedly, the boy had a brother in Britain and the legal right to come here, but was prevented from doing so by immigration authorities. On Monday (Oct 3), Save the


Children reported that at least 600 children have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean in a bid to escape war, poverty and persecution. One million Syrian children are not in school because of the situation, ‘a lost generation’ missing out on education. Clearly, the political responsibility to do more resides squarely with the UK government. The capacity of Ceredigion Council to accept more refugees is limited by the funding it receives. Ultimately, allocating additional funds to cope with the refugee crisis is the province of the government in Westminster. The Community Sponsorship scheme may the only way that communities who care can do more in the immediate term. It may be all we are practically able to do. However, the scheme will not mean that Britain takes more refugees. Rather, it will let the government off the hook of paying for the inadequate commitment that it has already made, passing the buck of responsibility to civil society. People in Ceredigion can support the passion of our MP, whom we must ask to keep up the political pressure on the Conservative Government to acknowledge their shame and take action. All that said, Ceredigion may have


the capacity to do more with less. How is it that Lebanon can accommodate so many more people? Perhaps we are too bureaucratic in making provision for refugees who come here? Perhaps we are working to inappropriately high standards of accommodation and individual support in the midst of mass crisis? In 2015, Germany accepted 468,000 Syrian refugees. What can we learn from these other places? How are they doing it? Whatever the case, there is certainly a will in our community to find the best way forward and to do more to help.


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