Five refugee families from Syria who settled in Bath five years ago have chosen to remain living in the city after having been granted indefinite leave to remain.
The families were the first to be welcomed to Bath in February 2016 as part of the Syrian refugee resettlement programme supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Connecting Families team.
A celebratory event was held for the families on Monday (August 2) at Parade Gardens in Bath to mark their completion of the programme and all they have achieved over the past five years.
One of the parents has trained as a teaching assistant and now works full-time in a school. Another gained qualifications in British Sign Language to be able to communicate with their child who is hearing impaired, which along with a cochlear implant and a place at a specialist school has made the child happier and less frustrated.
Some parents have been successful in securing jobs in retail and voluntary work, with one attending university to complete a degree in business management.
All of the families attend Bath College for English classes and four out of the five no longer need support through a translator. The children who are old enough to attend school are all fluent in English and achieving their academic targets, with the younger children having begun their early years education at local nurseries.
The families have told Connecting Families that they love their life here in the UK, they feel part of their communities and are very grateful for all the support, kindness and compassion they have received throughout the resettlement programme.
One parent said: “You have done so much for us I’m very sad you are going now. My children will miss you; you are family to us and always will be.”
Another added: “We have had lots of help to get everything we need, and you kept on helping, never stopped. I didn’t know what to expect and without you it would have been difficult. We didn’t know what was here in England, but we are safe and very happy, our new home now.”
One parent said of their keyworker: “Paul has worked hard for us. He always listens to us and we have valued the help and support received by him and everyone at Connecting Families. We would have struggled with things like benefits, housing, schools, etc. without you. Thank you for everything!”
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, said: “I am so pleased that our five families who came to the UK in 2016 now enjoy a safe and happy life and have gained their indefinite leave to remain. It was a joy to meet them and hear first-hand of their achievements. They have accomplished so much since they arrived in Bath and I’m delighted to hear that they all want to stay within our community.
“In 2015 the council had discussions with the Home Office about our willingness to help resettle Syrian refugees who greatly need our support. Thanks to the help of our local partners and volunteers, the resettlement programme has been a huge success for our five families. I know our Connecting Families team has found it an honour and a pleasure to be a part of their journey. I wish the families all the very best for a happy future.”
The Connecting Families team has supported the families since the beginning of the resettlement programme. This ranged from finding and furnishing accommodation before meeting them on arrival in the UK, to supporting them to set up bank accounts and register with health services in the first few weeks and helping them to settle in. Keyworkers have continued to support them throughout the five years.
The Connecting Families team co-ordinates local services to help meet the complex needs of individual families so they can make positive changes. Find out if you’re eligible for help and support.