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Housing and support for Asylum seekers on Teesside.

A public meeting to discuss practical ways that local people can support refugees

Following the increase in media reports and some horrific images, many refugee-supporting charities have received offers of accommodation from local people for Syrian refugees.  As a Teesside University lecturer, Bethany Usher said recently following a spell in a refugee camp in Lesbos “I believe this is our generation’s Holocaust. Our great-grandchildren will judge us on the compassion we showed.” Why does Middlesbrough have the most asylum seekers?

Syrian refugees coming on a programme will be supported, so to harness this outpouring of goodwill and support, a number of refugee-supporting charities working with Tees Valley of Sanctuary, got together to organise a public meeting to explain the difference in support and that there are already a number of people in our communities who have been refused asylum and in need of accommodation and support.

The meeting took place with support from Teesside University on Monday 19th October with over 100 people attending.  Housing and Support event 19th October 2015

Paul Catterall, Chief Exec of Open Door, a charity that provides accommodation and support to refugees and people seeking asylum said “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and offers of help from local people in this crisis situation.  Many have offered to accommodate Syrian refugee families, but when they arrive we understand they will be supported by central Government funding, including accommodation.  What we desperately need is support for people who have made their own way here, who aren’t on a supported resettlement programme. One way that local people can help is to become part of a hosting scheme”.( Hosting handout2015)

Being a Host is an exciting opportunity to meet people from different cultures and experiences.  Hosting gives the host an opportunity to feel that they are making a difference to someone’s life, by providing a warm bed, somewhere to store, prepare and cook food.  It is an uplifting and heart-warming experience.  (Hosting an asylum seeker).

The attendees at the event completed a response card to specify the type of support they can offer or to request further information.  Local Tees Valley councils, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton have  signed the Tees Valley of Sanctuary resolution of support, with Darlington and Hartlepool councils debating the resolution soon.  RefugeecrisisTeesValley  Redcar BC sign Sanctuary pledge 2015

Pete Widlinski, coordinator of Tees Valley of Sanctuary, that builds on the welcoming environment on Teesside and acts as an umbrella organisation for the refugee support groups in the area said “The purpose of this public meeting is to explain the difference between ‘programmed’ refugees, and people seeking and refused asylum.  People have different support needs and we want to harness the generosity of spirit that Teessiders have shown to this worsening refugee crisis – the biggest refugee movement since the Second World War – into the most practical and appropriate level of support”.