Syrian refugee families who’ve resettled in Lambeth gathered for a discussion hosted by SHP with leading politicians about how the borough has worked to provide a welcome to those fleeing the brutal civil war that has torn apart their homeland.

Lord Dubs and Yvette Cooper MP, who have both campaigned vigorously in Parliament for the UK to help refugees, attended alongside Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth Council leader, and Cllr Paul McGlone, the council’s deputy leader.

Rashna, a refugee who came to London through the resettlement programme in 2017 spoke about her experiences. She said:  “I fled the war in Syria in 2013, and spent four years living in a refugee camp in Jordan. I am so pleased to now call Lambeth my home, and I have been given the greatest gift of all since arriving; my son, Saleh. I only hope that my husband will be able to join us here soon, so that we can be reunited and live as a family.”

Welcomed 23 refugee families

So far, Lambeth council and SHP have welcomed 23 refugee families, many of whom gathered at the event where the discussion also covered the politics surrounding the refugee’s arrival in the UK, and the support they had received since arrival. Lord Dubs told them about his own experience having fled the Nazis and arriving in the UK as a six-year-old boy.

Lord Dubs said: “These people are victims of a terrible, terrible situation in Syria and they are entitled to have lives, decent lives. It’s so important, otherwise we are saying to our fellow humans forget it, you have no rights to anything, which is just unacceptable. I loved today’s event because you know we talk in theory in Parliament about what we do, and then to meet the refugees, to meet people who have benefited has been wonderful.”

Network of volunteers

Lambeth has commissioned SHP to provide the casework support to help the new arrivals settle in the borough. SHP work alongside the Council services (housing and education and social care) and with local health and welfare services to support newly arrived families. A network of volunteers from Citizens UK Lambeth office have also contributed hugely to the settlement effort.

Tyron Julien, Regional Service Manager for Single Homeless Project said: “We have been working to welcome Syrian families to the UK for over a year now, and have been very proud to see the families settle into London life. Our support workers focus on making the transition as easy as possible – from arranging GP appointments, to helping find school places and supporting people to learn English.

“It’s been a privilege to work with so many families, and to see community groups from across the borough, such as Lambeth Citizens, join together to welcome the families. This project would not be made possible without the tireless work of these groups.”

Everyone working together

Yvette Cooper MP said: “It has been inspiring today to see everybody coming together, to see refugees and families and all of the support services and the community coming together. I think Lambeth is showing great leadership on this and showing the importance of everyone working together.”

In addition to the 23 families already welcomed to Lambeth, the council has this year pledged to welcome another five families. The work of local community groups has been crucial, with Lambeth Citizens for example helping to source properties from for families to live in. 

Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth council leader, said: “Lambeth is an open, tolerant and compassionate borough – and the way that people have stepped up to help those in need is absolutely testament to that. The crisis in Syria is of such a scale that as a borough we felt we have to act to help those most in need, despite the challenges and the slowness of the UK government to accept refugees."

Find out more about our work with refugees.