Syrian Refugee Crisis
Dartford Borough Council has received a number of calls and emails from residents wanting to help in this Syrian refugee crisis.
I want to reassure you that Dartford will respond responsibly to the humanitarian emergency of almost unimaginable horror that has resulted from the war in Syria. Those fleeing war must be utterly terrified and wish for nothing more than a return to their home when it is safe to do so.
We can best play our part by working with others and cooperating with a properly-funded national scheme to provide refuge to those fleeing war. Information from Government is now arriving with us.
Local authorities are being asked to use local knowledge and connections to offer advice on temporary accommodation within the private rented and voluntary sectors funded, in part, from the national Overseas Aid budget. We will do this without hesitation. If every local authority responds positively to this appalling crisis the impact on each community will be negligible but the effect on easing the despair of decent people at a time of need will be great.
I want to be clear that we are not in a position to allocate housing directly and we will not do so. We have few vacant social housing properties and those we do have will continue to be allocated to local families who are themselves in great and pressing need. Last year more than 98% of our social housing was allocated to Dartford families and we have no intention of suspending that policy.
To me, there is a significant difference between economic migration which has been a source of so much controversy and debate over recent years and the plight of refugees fleeing terrifying violence in their homelands. The values and traditions which fuel legitimate concerns over economic migration are precisely the values which must surely direct us now.
This country has never turned its back on people in desperate need and whilst there are many reasons why people seek to live here - some legitimate, some not. We must be wise enough to know the difference.
I know the people of Dartford will want to respond appropriately in these circumstances and below I offer a list of useful links courtesy of www.gov.uk
Leader of the Council
I want to donate
The easiest way to help refugees is to donate cash to humanitarian organisations or charities. Cash donations are the fastest, most efficient way to get help to vulnerable people.
Cash donations enable relief agencies to cater to the specific needs of the affected population as quickly as possible. They also allow relief agencies to buy goods in the affected region, helping to regenerate the local economy.
Many international organisations are working in the UK, across Europe and in the countries refugees are fleeing from to provide aid and assistance. Recommended and experienced humanitarian and relief agencies that you can support include:
- British Red Cross Appeal
- Save the Children's Child Refugee Crisis Appeal
- UNHCR's Emergency Appeal
- The World Food Programme
- Refugee Action's Emergency Appeal – the money raised will support refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK
I want to volunteer
Several charities and organisations are working with refugees across the UK. To find out more about volunteering opportunities in your area visit:
I have clothes/books/toys etc that I want to donate
Many charities have been inundated with generous offers of donated goods from members of the public. Because of the logistical challenges in storing and transporting donated items, some can't accept any donations currently. Please consider other organisations that may be willing to accept your gift.
You can donate items to British Red Cross charity shops. They've launched #ShopDrop for Refugee Crisis, where they'll accept quality clothing, books and unwanted gifts. Money raised from goods donated to the Europe Refugee Crisis will go towards the British Red Cross Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.
The items won't go directly to child refugees but the money raised helps charities to support them.
I have a free room in my house
At this point the Government is not asking people to come forward with offers of a spare bedroom.
Many organisations in the UK operate accommodation hosting projects to help vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees. You can call the Red Cross's dedicated phone line on 0800 107 8727 for more information.
NACCOM is a national charity supporting local agencies who provide accommodation to asylum seekers whose applications have been refused.
I have a property that could be used to house refugees
Please contact Dartford Borough Council's Contact the Private Sector Housing team.
I'm a professional who could help refugees integrate on arrival in the UK
Contact the Refugee Council.
I have a business and have an idea that could help
There are a number of charities and organisations across the UK that are raising awareness and donations to help refugees who have recently arrived and those who are already in the UK. Please contact these charities and organisations directly.