First steps towards a Bute refugee welcome

Local Argyll and Bute councillor Isobel Strong organised a meeting this week to try and kick-start a local response to the refugee crisis in Syria.
Local Argyll and Bute councillor Isobel Strong organised a meeting this week to try and kick-start a local response to the refugee crisis in Syria.

More than 30 people have expressed a desire to help Bute play a part in alleviating the escalating refugee crisis.

Local councillor Isobel Strong organised a meeting at the Pavilion to try and gather a list of those willing to help, and the skills and services available in the community, in the wake of Argyll and Bute Council’s announcement that it plans to open its doors to at least 20 families fleeing the crisis in Syria and the Middle East.

Among the areas of expertise offered up were psychological support, teaching experience, knowledge of Arabic, children and family support, counselling, budgeting, cooking and DIY - as well as numerous offers of accommodation, both in the short and longer term.

Councillor Strong said: “I know the council is doing its bit, but the council can sometimes feel a bit remote.

“We’re not saying people have to help. We’re just trying to make sure that people who want to help can do so. Our schools have capacity and we have plenty of certain kinds of social housing.

“We might have different accents and nationalities but we’re all human beings.”

Argyll and Bute Council’s own ‘refugee resettlement group’ met for the first time on September 18, to begin drawing up an action plan on how Syrian refugees - the first of whom arrived in the UK this week - can be resettled into the area’s communities.