Preparations being made for refugees

The first group of refugees on a visit to Lanarkshire Central Mosque.
The first group of refugees on a visit to Lanarkshire Central Mosque.

Around 30 Syrian refugees are set to be housed in the Motherwell and Bellshill area in May.

In support of the Scottish Government’s commitment to resettle 2,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict over the next five years it was agreed North Lanarkshire would take in 120.

To date 43 refugees comprising 12 families have been settled in Monklands through the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme.

Now North Lanarkshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee has agreed a second tranche of around 30 refugees will be welcomed to North Lanarkshire in May, this time in the Motherwell and Bellshill area.

Duncan Mackay, executive director of Housing and Social Work Services, said: “Arrival at this time will allow for preparations to be made to get children into schools before the end of the summer term.

“To this end analysis of a number of factors has been carried out to determine in which locality the group should be resettled.

“Assessments have been made of housing availability, the capacity of local primary and secondary schools and availability of the local health services.

“As a result of this analysis it is proposed that the group should be resettled in the Motherwell/Bellshill area.

“Preparations will begin immediately including holding around 10 suitable vacant houses including a contribution of three from local housing associations, liaison with the Home Office over matching families to available housing, community preparation in the form of meetings with key local community groups including tenants and residents, community councils and local faith groups, a briefing for local councillors and training for a local support team who will be involved directly with the refugees following arrival.”

Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig councillor Alan Valentine requested elected members be given more information prior to their arrival than they were when Congolese refugees took residence in Motherwell in 2007.

He said: “I was involved years ago when the Congolese people came to Motherwell and we got a briefing then, but it wasn’t very detailed and subsequently the elected members had some issues so I am looking for assurances that we will be given a better briefing this time so we know exactly what is going on.”

Mr Mackay assured him the briefings were now more detailed.