In 2016, Lambeth Council agreed to support the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and we have since fulfilled our commitments to settle 28 families from Syria in the borough – more than any other London borough. We continue to support the VPRS and have committed to settling a further 38 families over the period of 2020 to 2025.
We work closely with our partners including community groups such as Local Churches, mosques, businesses and charities including the Refugee Council and Citizens UK through Lambeth citizens. Last year, we were named Community Sponsorship Local Authority of the Year, as we had more Community Sponsorship schemes than anywhere else in the UK, enabling these community groups to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in Lambeth and the rest of the UK.
Refugee Week 2020
To mark Refugee Week in Lambeth and this year’s theme ‘Imagine’ we’re celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees in the borough and around the world. We encourage residents to celebrate and get involved, by doing one or more of 8 Simple Acts, these are everyday actions we can do to stand with refugees and make new connections in our communities, and can all be done at home.
Word from Cabinet
Cllr Sonia Winfred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture said:
“Lambeth has always been a place that welcomes people with open arms from all over the world we are a proud and diverse borough, protecting the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Over the last four years, we’re delighted to have welcomed 28 families who now call Lambeth home”.
“We are extremely grateful to our local community groups, charities and businesses whom we have worked with over the years, for their commitment to helping families settle into the community. We look forward to continuing this great partnership into the future and welcoming many more families, providing them with safety and support in our wonderful borough”.
28th Family to arrive in Lambeth
In January 2020, Ahed, Ola and Adel – three sisters arrived in the UK with their mother from Syria and became the 28th family to arrive in Lambeth. Shortly after arriving, the UK went into Lockdown putting some of their intentions on hold. Though, this hasn’t stopped them from making the best of their time in Lambeth. We hear first-hand, about their experiences so far:
Before I came to Britain, my life was psychologically and financially unstable and I felt insecure. My health situation deteriorated slightly, all this because of the war, but when I came to Britain, my life changed for the better, I felt safe, stability, happiness and self-confidence. (Beautiful house, monthly expenses, excellent health care and we registered in language schools). All this through wonderful British people who helped us since we arrived at the airport to this day, but we faced some difficulties such as learning language, communicating with people, very cold weather in Britain and feelings of longing, sadness and pain. The separation of my brothers and children in Jordan and the emergence of coronavirus two months after we arrived and my sister Ahed’s disease was the worst thing that happened to us, but medical care in the hospital was excellent and we are grateful to them for the healing of my sister and her condition improved, but in the shadow of Coronavirus we felt safe because of this wonderful attention in all respects health, material and morally.
As for learning English, our teacher Ms. Barbara has taken us to a WhatsApp group with a group of nice ladies (Shuna, Rachel, Jane and Louise) where we take English lessons through the Zoom program. We also attended a course through the Zoom program to learn photography and English. I am now happy and grateful to Britain and all the people around me, and I wish to learn English quickly so that I can work and try to pay back this wonderful country that has become a major part of my life and feel its direction of belonging and loving.
We arrived in London five months ago. We received a beautiful, healthy home that was arranged by a group of nice women who got to know them at the house of Barbara, my sister, Ahed, I enrolled in a school, my sister, Adl, we registered in the college. Unfortunately, because of Coronavirus we did not study but our teacher my dear Barbara group taught us English at home and another teacher, Sarah, ran a group photography group that includes different nationalities. We learnt photography. We were asked to write a story about pictures that you send us and take specific photos. SLRA Women group sent us pieces of fabric to make a quilt. We did this. Our achievements are integrating into society. Learning about British women. Transportation, paying taxes, filling gas and electricity. We can bring medicine and all we need. We respect the country and the people who live here. We know our rights and live up to our duties. My dream is to learn English quickly.
Hi my name is Ahed, I am 17 years old, I came out of Syria because of the war on a cruel journey and suffering across the border to Jordan, I was 11 years old, leaving behind me my house, my school and everything related to my childhood and my memories.
In Jordan at first, I didn’t find a school to study, and that hurts me so badly, I didn’t have friends and I felt depressed and I was very sad until a new school year begins, and my aunt paid for my studies in a private school, I made new friends and I was focusing on my English and trying to improve it and lived in the hope of coming to Britain where my brother lives, and my dream came true and we came here at the beginning of 2020.
My happiness completed when I signed in a school here so I met new friends from different countries, I only stayed in school for a week, then the school was closed because of the spread of Covid-19 and now I am following my lessons online.
Unfortunately, a month ago I was very sick, my family called the emergency services and they called for an ambulance and they came fast.
I went to Kings college hospital, and I stayed for a whole week.
And yet I am still completing my treatment at home, I am very grateful to the medical team who took care of me.
I’m on the way to make my others, dreams come true and I wish to receive support and encouragement to complete my studies and fulfil my dream and be a part of the building and development of Britain in the future.
Fatina arrived in the UK with her brothers and parents, from Syria in 2018. Since arriving to the UK and settling in Lambeth, Fatina’s life has changed for the better, and she has kindly shared some of her experiences with us:
”I’m Fatina and today I’m gonna talk about how me and my family found the life in the UK.”
”We have been here more than 2 years. Our life literally changed to the better. We liked this country a lot for many reasons. First of all, services are available to anyone. Secondly, medical services are perfect. People who working in NHS are very helpful. We liked the transport as well because it’s easy to get anywhere. Finally, what we liked the most is the people. People in London don’t have a racist. They don’t look to your religion, colour, nationality or whatever, they treat you on the principle of humanity. And all respect you. We are very grateful to this country. It was the best decision to come here and to live in this beautiful country. Our English improved quickly. Although this is sometimes difficult, people help us translate some difficult words or try to talk with us slowly. Thank you for granting us residency in Britain and thanks for the kind treatment. Thanks for give us some time to read our options.”
Lambeth Citizens is part of Citizens UK – https://www.citizensuk.org, who have campaigned on refugee issues for many years and were widely involved in persuading the government to set up the VPRS scheme under which the families have come here.
‘’Barbara Wilson, Lambeth Refugees Welcomes and leader with Citizens UK, said: It has been a great pleasure to get to know the families, make friends with them, visiting their homes and enjoying delicious Syrian food. As well as helping furnish their homes we enjoy helping them learn English and make new friends, arranging parties and going on excursions together. Our lives are richer through these new friendships’’
Single Homeless Project
Single Homeless Project (SHP), a London-wide charity, has been commissioned by the Council to work with the resettled families from the day they arrive to help them to lead fulfilling lives in the UK. Families receive an intensive two-year program of support, after which they can access weekly drop-ins. Support ranges from help with tasks such as setting up a bank account and accessing healthcare, to learning English and looking for volunteering or work opportunities.
‘’Isobel Whitting, Acting Manager at SHP, said: ”No one should have to flee their home out of fear of persecution, but unfortunately, this is a reality for many people worldwide. At SHP we witness the families’ resilience, creativity and determination on a daily basis, and it’s wonderful that others in the borough will get the chance to hear some of their stories. It is such a privilege to work with the families and support them at a moment of huge change in their lives. One client told me that arriving in the UK felt like ‘my soul being put back into my body’. This expression alone demonstrates the importance of having schemes like VPRS and the soon-to-be UK Resettlement Scheme”.
On the occasion of Refugee Week, I would like to share our story. My name is Haja Ahmed from Sudan. I have three daughters and a boy. I will tell about the positive change in our life. I would like, through Refugee Week, to say Thanks UK, Lambeth council, SHP, volunteers and to everyone who stood up beside me and my family.
Two years and months ago, we reached Lambeth and things inside us were scattered, fear, disease, tears, remains of torture on our bodies we thought that we were coming from the unknown to the unknown but the first impression was drawn with joy and youth of shp.. that kind-hearted smile from Isabel and Meroe. Embodied at that moment the unknown to people and some reassurance. Lambeth Council received devastating bodies, Lambeth received souls leaving their body. Lambeth Council began restoring life to those destroyed bodies … It was the beginning to provide security and peace within us in that beautiful home and providing support for life from eating, drinking and entertainment providing hospitals, schools and college attracting volunteers and others.
I follow the success of my children in their schools and their distinction, even for myself, I see that I am walking with the power of transforming the future and my name shines in the international media. I will not be satisfied with saying thank you to the Lambeth Council. Thank you shp..Thank you volunteers and I am satisfied with that I will achieve with my family the success they drew for me and my family to be effective in our new society to look at the future with a different vision.
If you would like to welcome a refugee into your own home and help them settle into life here in the UK, you can find out more information at Refugees at home website.
Find out more about the Refugee Council.