Helping our fellow man is right thing to do

Council leader Jim McCabe
Council leader Jim McCabe

Council leader Jim McCabe says welcoming refugees is nothing new for North Lanarkshire, but once again it was the right thing to do.

He said: “Nothing any of us can imagine touches the agony of the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes in a country devastated by civil war and terrorism.

“Our revulsion at the Syrian conflict goes beyond party politics and that has been recognised by every councillor I have spoken to about giving help and support to the refugees.

“On this, we speak with one voice.

“Of course, for North Lanarkshire residents, extending the hand of welcome and safety isn’t new.

“In 2007 we were the only Scottish local authority to stand and be counted as a friend to displaced people when we helped resettle 80 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the Gateway protection Programme.

“It is an experience which has prepared us well for the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme, and yes, I agree it’s an awful name.

“I prefer to think of it as helping our fellow human beings, firstly through resettlement in our communities and then by supporting all those community efforts to assist.

“Already there are charitable initiatives springing up across our area: some are targeted, some are not. They all recognise the very real humanitarian effort required.

“Here at the Civic Centre, we have even had calls and e-mails from companies offering help through their own community programmes.

“And that is why we have set up a special working group, led by Councillor Pat O’Rourke with cross party membership and support, assisted by senior officials.

“All working together for a shared and common good.

“During the next few days, we will be publishing details of how you can help on our website, on Facebook and Twitter and I know our local newspapers can be relied upon to support our efforts.

“We Scots are renowned throughout the world for our hospitality and generosity. I have no doubt we will live up to that proud reputation in the weeks and months to come.”