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Counselling service to be launched in Suffolk for Syrian refugees

PUBLISHED: 14:46 24 January 2018

Devastation in Aleppo, Syria after an attack by jet fighters. Picture: AA/ABACAPRESS. COM

Devastation in Aleppo, Syria after an attack by jet fighters. Picture: AA/ABACAPRESS. COM

ABACA/Press Association Images

Refugees who have found sanctuary in Suffolk from conflict in the Middle East will be offered specialist counselling as part of a new pilot scheme.

Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer, Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group. Picture: NHS IPSWICH AND EAST SUFFOLK CCCG Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer, Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group. Picture: NHS IPSWICH AND EAST SUFFOLK CCCG

Theresa May has committed to resettling 20,000 vulnerable people from the camps surrounding Syria by 2020 and Suffolk has agreed to find homes for up to 230.

The Government funds this work and a chunk of the ring-fenced cash will be used to trial a 12-week therapy programme in the county, led by the Refugee Council.

The news was unveiled at an Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting on Tuesday and plans are still in their early stages.

The CCG’s chief corporate services officer Amanda Lyes said: “That particular group have a particular need of service which is currently not provided by our local mental health provider and they have a language barrier which requires specialist interpreters so an action has been taken to support them.”

Suffolk Refugee Support manager, Rebecca Crerar. Picture: GREGG BROWN Suffolk Refugee Support manager, Rebecca Crerar. Picture: GREGG BROWN

After the meeting, Claire Pemberton, primary care lead for the CCG, said the sessions would be open to children and adults and would address problems such as night terrors, post-traumatic stress disorder and grief.

She added: “Our local mental health services are stretched beyond their limits and they not geared up to take this cohort of patients so it will relieve that pressure and hopefully embed this cohort of patients in the area so they feel comfortable.”

If the pilot proves successful, Ms Pemberton said it could be extended.

Rebecca Crerar, manager of Suffolk Refugee Support, which is coordinating the local resettlement programme, welcomed the news.

She said: “Many refugees have suffered unimaginable trauma, and while those we support in Suffolk may have reached a place of safety, often the journey of rebuilding their lives is only just beginning.

“At Suffolk Refugee Support we’re well aware that issues of displacement, loss, grief and anxiety can only be tackled fully through sustained therapeutic care.

“We have seen how specialist counselling and mental health services can transform the lives of people damaged by trauma, so we welcome the proposed pilot project and look forward to working with the agencies involved to improve the lives of vulnerable refugees in the region.”

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