Refugee Week: Three families from Syria settled in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 12:32 22 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 22 June 2019

A Syrian refugee holds his young son in a refugee camp in northern Iraq.
 
Credit:  Andrew McConnell/Panos for DFID

A Syrian refugee holds his young son in a refugee camp in northern Iraq. Credit: Andrew McConnell/Panos for DFID

Archant

Three Syrian families have settled in the Welwyn Hatfield borough area, joining more than 50 families from the war-torn country now living across Hertfordshire.

The figures come after the Welwyn Hatfield Times asked Herts Welcomes Syrian Families (HWSF) to shine a spotlight on those fleeing war and persecution during this year's Refugee Week, which runs until Sunday.

The Herts-wide charity said five of the six parents are trying to increase their levels of English at Oaklands College.

"The other mum is at home with a young baby - and they also have volunteer tutors who come to their homes to help with conversation practice," said Vicky Woodcraft, area convenor for HWSF.

"The children have settled in well at school and their parents say how helpful their teachers have been.

"Other parents have welcomed them - two little girls were invited to a birthday party only days after they arrived!"

The families have been arriving through the government's Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which was set up in September 2015 in response to widespread public support for the UK to do more to help Syrian refugees displaced by the Syrian Civil War.

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"All have or have had health issues of various kinds, either from injuries from the Syrian war or problems which could not be dealt with properly in a war zone or refugee area," said Vicky.

"Hospital and clinic appointments, especially when they have to travel some distance to reach them, can be a problem."

Learning English has also been difficult, but the families are determind to learn as quickly as possible, she said.

"They do not want to remain dependent on benefits, but to get back into the sorts of employment they once had," said Vicky.

"For this they know they have to achieve a higher level of competence in the language.

"They are all delighted at the opportunities their children have to get back into education."

HWSF helps to settle and support refugee families through welcome meals, social events and get-togethers.

English for Speakers of Other Languages co-ordinators also provide tutors to support the families with language needs.

To find out more, volunteer or donate to HSWF visit its website - hwsf.org.uk.

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