Since the tragic start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 more than 5 million Syrians have fled their homeland as a result of the brutality of the conflict in which approximately 400,00 people have lost their lives.

The UN defines as refugee as: ‘Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’ (Article 1, 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) and this principal can be applied to the plight for many millions of Syrians.

By 2015 the UK had granted political asylum to 5,102 refugees of which 216 had been actively resettled leading to criticism of this stance in many quarters for the weakness of this response. For example, in a 2015 article from the Guardian newspaper the Barrister Colin Yeo, who runs the Free Movement immigration blog, said that ‘The UK government seem hell-bent on keeping Syrians out, whatever the humanitarian cost.’

This process of integration has not been eased either in recent years. In as recent as November 2018 it emerged that a sixteen-year-old youth had assaulted a Syrian refugee in a playground attack in West Yorkshire.

By this process is slowing but surely changing.

The UK government has subsequently pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020 through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement and one local group in our area is part of this crucial fight.

Love Refugees is a community group which has begun the process of attempting to resettle a refugee family. Founded in 2019 by members of the St Michael’s Church in Fulwell the group are looking to follow the successful example of the integration of a family in Wimbledon in 2017.

On the 7th February 2019 the group hosted a successful launch event where local groups discussed the work they do to help refugees. Among the groups in attendance were Refugees Welcome in Richmond, Kinston Eco Centre and Three Peas which works in Greece.

The event also featured figures from the political and religious worlds to speak with Green Party MEP Jean Lambert discussing the role of the EU in refugee resettlement and Rabbi Janet providing information about the Lord Dubs amendment. This piece of legislation was sponsored by Lord Dubs to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migration crisis but was eventually abandoned by the Home Office in 2017.

The group has also set up a crowdfunding page in order to try and raise the £12,000 needed to finance the project. Currently the group has made fantastic progress and the total funds raised stands at £4334.50 but they still require funding to ensure the safety and security of the families they are trying to resettle.

On the 30th March the group hosted another event where there was a talk from the charity Sponsor Refugees about the community sponsorship in the UK and an interview with a Syrian couple.

Overall, the group has made a successful start to their project but there still remains a lot to do so that this worthy cause can come fully to fruition. If you would like to get involved with the project the Twitter handle is @refugeeslove and the donation link