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Seventy Syrian refugees make new lives in Suffolk as part of Government's resettlement promise

PUBLISHED: 15:38 20 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:25 23 June 2017

Syrian refugees in Suffolk who have received a bicycle as part of a new project. Picture: SUFFOLK REFUGEE SUPPORT

Syrian refugees in Suffolk who have received a bicycle as part of a new project. Picture: SUFFOLK REFUGEE SUPPORT

Archant

As Suffolk marks Refugee Week, three Syrian families are preparing to move into new homes in the county, having been forced out of their motherland by war and devastation.

Abigail Grace, Syrian Resettlement Programme Coordinator at Suffolk Refugee Support. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELLAbigail Grace, Syrian Resettlement Programme Coordinator at Suffolk Refugee Support. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Once they arrive later this month, it will take the number of refugees relocated in Suffolk over the past year-and-a-half as part of the UK Government’s promise to resettle 20,000 vulnerable people from the camps surrounding Syria to around 70 - half of those are children.

Leaders in the county have committed to taking in up to 200 people from the war-torn country across five years, initially in accommodation provided by private landlords.

Abigail Grace, who is co-ordinating the resettlement programme on behalf of Suffolk Refugee Support (SRS), said some of those making new lives here had been “traumatised” by what they had been through in the Middle East.

She added: “Some have been victims of torture and some of the children would have had no stability in their lives. A lot of them experienced living in a war zone and that comes with trauma.”

Lucy Kerry, from Suffolk Refugee Support, and John the cycling trainer, with a group of Syrian refugees outside La Tour Cycle Cafe in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK REFUGEE SUPPORTLucy Kerry, from Suffolk Refugee Support, and John the cycling trainer, with a group of Syrian refugees outside La Tour Cycle Cafe in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK REFUGEE SUPPORT

By definition, a refugee is someone who has no choice than to flee their country in order to avoid persecution, war or violence.

Ms Grace said if it was safe to return, the majority of Syrian families rehomed in Suffolk would do so.

“Syria before the war had a very good standard of education and health care,” she added. “Obviously there were political issues but people’s day to day was not poverty or war.”

Refugee Week runs from June 19-25 and the theme this year is ‘different pasts, shared future’.

The campaign aims to highlight the positive contribution made by refugees and to promote a better understanding of why people from other countries seek sanctuary in the UK.

There are a number of events going on in Suffolk to celebrate, from film screenings to public talks. To find out more, visit: suffolkrefugee.org.uk/refugee-week-programme

SRS has also launched a new scheme to give Syrian refugees in the county a secondhand bicycle and road safety classes to help them get to appointments and classes, as well as keeping fit.

Organised by SRS trustee and volunteer Lucy Kerry, the bikes have been donated by the Christchurch Park neighbourhood group, Ipswich School, Cycle Ipswich, the Bike Doctor and La Tour Cycle Café; while the training has been provided for free by John Showell, road safety officer at Suffolk County Council.

So far 31 bicycles have been handed out.

SRS is looking for further donations of bicycles and children’s scooters, as well as volunteers to help with the project. Visit: www.suffolkrefugee.org.uk/what-you-can-do/volunteer

Refugee family who fled Syria with daughter in a suitcase build new lives in north Essex

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