In April 2016 the Government announced that in addition to the 20,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled across the UK, it would also accept 3,000 vulnerable and at risk children and their families under the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. On 22 March 2017 we agreed to join the scheme.
Under this scheme, families in the Middle East and Northern Africa region of any nationality with children who meet the UNHCR’s vulnerability criteria are resettled and supported in the same way as those resettled under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons programme.
The UNHCR identify vulnerable children at risk based on the following criteria:
children with specific medical needs
children with disabilities
child survivors of (or at risk of) violence, abuse or exploitation including sexual and gender based violence
children at risk of harmful traditional practices (eg child marriage and FGM)
children without legal documentation
children in detention
children at risk of refoulement
children at risk of not attending school
children associated with armed forces or armed groups
children at risk of child labour or already working
Laila and her sons Malik (10) and Hassan (9) are from Iraq. Before coming to England, they were in Turkey. Laila is a trained lawyer and tells us a little about her new start in Lewisham.
'I’m very enthusiastic about our new life here but it was a challenge at first to leave my country and come to a European country with my children. I get a little homesick at night and sometimes it can be lonely.
'The first thing that I would like to do here is learn English, then get my driver’s licence and find a job. Then, our new lives can take off.
'We started community English classes as soon as we arrived. I’m also teaching my children at home which is good as I can learn with them. My children will start school in September 2017.We started community English classes as soon as we arrived. I’m also teaching my children at home which is good as I can learn with them. My children will start school in September 2017.
'I have felt welcomed from the first moment I arrived at the airport in June. What the Council is doing is very important. We are safe and getting help to start again. The role that Marwa from SHP has played and all of the volunteers that I’ve met so far has been very important because they made me feel at home. They’ve been able to support me when my family hasn’t been able to.'