Eight asylum seekers housed in Lancaster

Migrants arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a inflatable dinghies.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a inflatable dinghies.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Eight asylum seekers have been housed in Lancaster as part of a government scheme.

The eight people are in the city on a temporary basis while they wait to discover whether they can remain in the UK.

A city council spokesman said: “The council is aware of the asylum seeker programme and assists Serco in finding suitable accommodation for them to live in suitable areas within the district.

“Through this programme, eight asylum seekers have been housed in Lancaster and continue to receive assistance from Serco and the City of Sanctuary Group.”

Serco are the government’s appointed contractors for the COMPASS contract (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services) to house asylum seekers while they await a decision on whether they can remain in UK.

The asylum seeker dispersal programme is a contract which requires limited city council officer support as Serco take responsibility for acquiring potential properties, liaising with landlords, ensuring the property is of a suitable standards, any support needs for the asylum seekers, liaison with health, police and social care, etc.

Meanwhile, Craven District Council is set to become a pilot authority for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in North Yorkshire.

Members of the council’s policy committee have agreed the council should commit to accepting a maximum of 25 Syrian refugees over the next five years, which are expected to be in family groups rather than single people.

The move follows the government’s commitment to accepting up to 20,000 Syrian refugees into the United Kingdom from refugee camps in countries neighbouring Syria.

Craven, along with one or two neighbouring partners, has been proposed as authorities for the initial pilot in North Yorkshire.

Refugees could now begin to arrive in summer 2016, provided suitable accommodation and support services are in place.

Paul Ellis, director of services at Craven District Council, said: “We want to play our part in the humanitarian response to the plight of the Syrian refugees.

“The council had already agreed in principle to do our bit to help these refugee families who are in dire need of assistance.

“Now that government funding is in place, we are able to move forward with these plans.

“It is very important that this resettlement scheme is handled carefully. We will be proactive in fostering good relations between the refugees and the existing community and help them to positively integrate.”

Funding for setting up and operating the scheme for the first 12 months is being covered by a grant from the Home Office.

Refugees will be granted a five-year humanitarian protection visa before they enter the UK and have the same rights as UK citizens to education, employment, health care and public funds. Unaccompanied children will not be included.

The council’s chief executive and director of services will now work with North Yorkshire County Council, the other North Yorkshire district councils, Migration Yorkshire, lettings agents and registered providers of social housing, to implement the resettlement scheme.