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Kingston Council statement on Syrian refugees

In June 2015, the Leader of the Council, wrote to Kingston’s faith group Leaders and their communities asking for their help in finding suitable accommodation for 50 Syrian refugees.

The letter from Councillor Davis was timed to coincide with Refugee Week (15-21 June 2015) and was co-signed by the Chair and Vice Chair of Kingston’s Interfaith Forum.

With the recent upsurge in the refugee crisis, Councillor Davis has issued the following statement:

"Britain has a proud history of offering refuge for people in dire straits stretching back to the Second World War and earlier. The plight of people fleeing the war and barbarism in Syria is turning into a humanitarian crisis to compare to any from the 20th century. As a wealthy country I believe we must do what we can to help. This issue is beyond politics – it’s about doing the right thing as decent people. The pictures of young children dying on beaches is bound to stir our human morality. It is however not right for politicians to throw around arbitrary figures as some pretence of a response, or to mask the very distinct differences between refugees and economic migrants - they are not the same.

“The UK Government should be applauded for giving very significant aid to the relief effort, but I believe that at local level communities across the country must try and do more to find local solutions to this issue. Back in June, Kingston Council was one of the first local authorities to make a commitment to do whatever we could to find suitable accommodation for 50 Syrian refugees. We are doing this through an existing Home Office resettlement scheme, which sees rents paid through Housing Benefits (funded by the European Union) and refugee families being appointed a caseworker to help them settle.

"Finding accommodation that meets the Home Office's requirements is not easy but we continue to work hard with community leaders and local people to identify suitable properties. I have also written to council leaders across the country to encourage them to do the same. Local communities can play an important part in solving this humanitarian crisis and are probably better placed than national politicians to take action.”