Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Children Get a Very Warm Welcome to Our Region

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Children Get a Very Warm Welcome to Our Region

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

WELCOMING North Easterners have provided impoverished Syrian children with winter coats as figures reveal more than 100 refugees have now settled in the region.

But, despite the warm welcome in Gateshead and Newcastle, it is understood just two of our councils have homed those fleeing the war-torn country - meaning just 21 families from the millions caught up in the crisis have resettled in the North East.

Durham, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland are not involved in the Government's Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation (SVPR) scheme. While North Tyneside is part of the scheme, but has not yet rehomed any families.

The nine families currently living across Newcastle have settled well into their new lives thanks to the welcome given by people in the city whose help includes: | Donating toys so that the children had something to play with on arrival into their new homes | A Newcastle school organised a shoe box donation of toys before Christmas which included welcome letters and cards from schoolchildren | Councillors and staff from Northumbria Police and Your Homes Newcastle donated large quantities of clothes | A Whitley Bay church collection that funded a new coat for each child after they arrived in the city without suitable winter clothing Back in January 2014, Newcastle City Council responded positively to the Government's SVPR scheme by offering to accommodate and support up to 10 families affected by the on-going humanitarian crisis.

Deputy council leader Joyce McCarty said: "This was not just about agreeing to accept these families and putting them into a home. It was about finding them somewhere safe to rebuild their lives.

"There had to be health support in place and there needed to be education places available for the children.

"Before the families arrived, we were provided with background on them to ensure their needs were being met.

"The response from the people of Newcastle has been fantastic. They saw that some of the children were travelling to school on the bus without any winter coats, so they came together and bought some for them. …

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