‘Team of the Year’ award for North Lanarkshire’s Syrian Resettlement Project
North Lanarkshire Council’s Syrian Resettlement Project Team scooped the ‘Team of the Year’ for excellence in housing by the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland.
The prestigious award comes exactly a year after the first Syrian families were welcomed to North Lanarkshire. It also recognises the continuing support the team provides to give all families confidence, promote independence and allow them to fulfil all their aspirations within the local communities.
The first families arrived in North Lanarkshire last November and to date 80 Syrian refugees have been successfully resettled across the area. To prepare for their arrival, a Syrian Resettlement Project Team was established involving housing, social work and other council services, together with NHS Lanarkshire, local voluntary organisations, local housing associations, Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Members of the resettlement team were assigned individual families to support. Key areas provided included the wellbeing of each family for tenancy matters, children and families services and the physical and emotional needs being supported by health visitors. The team also had responsibility for signposting and referring to other more specialist services. For example, some people may have suffered from violence and torture and require additional help from specialist services.
Senior officials from the Home Office attended an ‘English for Speakers of Other Languages’ (ESOL) class in Airdrie and praised North Lanarkshire as an example of best practice across the UK.
Councillor Pat O’Rourke, chair of the council’s Syrian Resettlement Programme, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the dedication and commitment to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in North Lanarkshire has been recognised at this level.
“The aim of integrating the refugees into our communities has been embraced wholeheartedly by all members of the team, with all tasks being approached with integrity, energy and determination to ensure the refugees have every opportunity of creating a future in North Lanarkshire. I’m very proud of this project and delighted the Chartered Institute of Housing has recognised the excellent work of the staff by granting such a prestigious award.”
Providing support, advice and services for the Syrian Refugee resettlement is a huge task. It’s not just about providing housing for people; help is needed with utility companies, applying for welfare benefits, registering with local GPs, dentists, enrolment for children at local schools and assisting the families with local orientation around the neighbourhood and the local area generally. Everyone has a role to play, including local residents. And, by doing so the Syrian refugees can build a relationship of trust and confidence with agencies and communities.
Councillor Barry McCulloch, convener of housing, added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone involved in the project and fully acknowledge the partnership work involved to ensure all arrangements were in place for a smooth integration.
“As well as the formal recognition this award provides for the excellent work being carried out in North Lanarkshire, we’ve also received extremely positive responses from the refugees themselves and their experience of settling in to North Lanarkshire Communities, This is what makes everything we do worthwhile and allows us to be proud of the positive difference we’re making to people’s lives.”