Cabinet secretary backs East Dunbartonshire community-focused welcome for Syrian refugees

Cabinet secretary backs East Dunbartonshire community-focused welcome for Syrian refugees

THE CABINET secretary for communities has applauded community welcome plans for Syrian refugees coming to East Dunbartonshire.

Angela Constance MSP said “considerable predatory work” must be carried out to resettle refugees in the area by East Dunbartonshire Council.

Efforts for a community welcome by Rona Mackay MSP and Sandra Sutton at the Twechar Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre were raised in the Scottish Parliament chamber during a General Questions session on Thursday, December 15.

Ms Constance, cabinet Secretary for communities, social security and equalities, said: “I welcome East Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to participate in the resettlement programme. I am pleased to say that, by 2017, all local authorities in Scotland will be involved in supporting refugees to settle in Scotland. It has to be acknowledged that considerable preparatory work needs to be done by local authorities before refugees arrive in their communities to ensure, for example, that the right accommodation, services and supports are in place.”

She added: “I am pleased to acknowledge that Ms Mackay is working closely with the Twechar healthy living and enterprise centre to arrange a community team to help with that integration from day 1 and to give a very warm welcome to refugees when they arrive in East Dunbartonshire.”

Ms Mackay, the MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, said: “I was glad to ask the cabinet secretary Angela Constance about how it is so essential we provide evacuees from war-torn Syria and unaccompanied children with not just housing and education, but a community orientated welcome to help integrate them in the area.

“Ms Constance is well aware of the situation in East Dunbartonshire at the moment and fully agreed with our voluntary efforts to get a programmes, befriending and support in many different forms to the families and children coming to the region.

“The suffering the people of Syria have endured in the last five years is unimaginable for most people in Scotland. This is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis and it requires a humanitarian response – Scotland should stand ready to help to offer sanctuary to refugees who need our help.”

Ms Mackay also spoke during a debate on refugees in the parliament on Tuesday, December 13. In her speech she conveyed the economic, social and cultural benefits international migrants bring to Scotland.

A total of 1,250 Syrians have been resettled in Scotland since 2015.

A full transcript of the question and answering and Rona’s speech can be found on Rona Mackay’s website, at www.ronamackay.scot.

ENDS

NOTES

Full transcript:

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding Scotland’s role in supporting refugees entering the UK. (S5O-00481)

The Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Angela Constance):
Scottish Government officials are in regular dialogue with Home Office officials about support for refugees who settle in Scotland. Ministers have also discussed the issue and I discussed the resettlement of refugees and unaccompanied children, among other issues, when I met the immigration minister in October. I am very proud that Scotland has now welcomed around 1,250 Syrian refugees under the Syrian resettlement programme since October 2015.

Rona Mackay:
I welcome the fact that East Dunbartonshire Council has at long last agreed to take refugees: four families and four unaccompanied children. Does the cabinet secretary agree that, in addition to providing the refugees with housing and education, it is essential that a welcoming committee from the communities involved helps to integrate the families socially by helping with language and local knowledge?

Angela Constance:
Like the member, I welcome East Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to participate in the resettlement programme. I am pleased to say that, by 2017, all local authorities in Scotland will be involved in supporting refugees to settle in Scotland. It has to be acknowledged that considerable preparatory work needs to be done by local authorities before refugees arrive in their communities to ensure, for example, that the right accommodation, services and supports are in place.

I know that there is a wealth of expertise in the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, other local authorities and third sector organisations that East Dunbartonshire Council is drawing on as it prepares to welcome refugees. Many councils have engaged closely with their local communities through volunteering programmes or other means to make best use of the enormous good will that is out there to provide befriending and other support, whether it is English language practice or other ways to welcome refugees into our communities. I am pleased to acknowledge that Ms Mackay is working closely with the Twechar healthy living and enterprise centre to arrange a community team to help with that integration from day 1 and to give a very warm welcome to refugees when they arrive in East Dunbartonshire.

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