Yes, it is still a Syrian refugee project! Even though the Home Office scheme has changed slightly to include other nationalities who may have fled the Syrian conflict, they have agreed that the South Cheltenham Team family will still come under the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme.
Five of us had a meeting with the Home Office on Tuesday 18th July to discuss our application and resettlement plan. They were happy with our request to stick with the original scheme.
Officially, this was described as a Pre-approval meeting. Bel and Carolyn from the Home Office said they only had this meeting if they thought that the application would be successful, which was encouraging. The meeting took just over an hour, which they said was the shortest they had ever had. They approved the application, and went over some details in the resettlement plan. We now have to resubmit this with appropriate amendments, when they will convene a larger decision panel before giving us final approval. They will then send details of the family we can accommodate to the UNHCR. Together with the IOM (International Organisation for Migration), they will select an appropriate family and offer them the accommodation. Providing this is accepted, we in turn will have to give our consent to house the family.
The house has had some minor repairs carried out by the landlord, who is arranging for it to have a professional clean, before it has a final inspection by the Borough Council.
The lease on the house is about to be signed, so we will then be able to take possession of it as tenants and start to furnish it. It is a four bedroom house, but the Borough Council has said it is not suitable for more than six people. The exact composition of the family therefore has to fit within these criteria.
It all takes time, but we hope we will have a family installed by the end of October – exactly a year after this was first proposed as a project for the South Cheltenham Team.