Good turnout for courses to help accommodate new Arab citizens

Speakers attending the Refugee-Arabic awareness training programme in St. Columbs Park house.  Included (front, right), is Sue Divin, Good Relations officer with Derry City and Strabane District councils Community Relations. 1516-2904MT.

Speakers attending the Refugee-Arabic awareness training programme in St. Columbs Park house. Included (front, right), is Sue Divin, Good Relations officer with Derry City and Strabane District councils Community Relations. 1516-2904MT.

A crash course in Arab communication and social etiquette designed to help Londonderry greet Syrian refugees was well attended, according to Derry City and Strabane District Council.

The special course was used to raise awareness about the harrowing experiences of the refugees arriving in the city having fled the war in Syria.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “There was a fantastic turnout for the second training course geared towards giving key community and statutory workers, volunteers and interested individuals a better understanding of the needs of refugees set to arrive in the North West in the coming months.

“The courses were organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Good Relations team on behalf of the Mayor’s Civic Action for Refugees group, which has been preparing the way for the successful integration of a number of families into the local community.

“The second of two free workshops focused on refugee issues in Northern Ireland and the UK, Islamic cultural awareness, the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, information on the Belfast experience and a questions and answers sessions with refugees already living in Northern Ireland.”

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Elisha McCallion, said: “These courses are very informative and a good way of preparing ourselves for the arrival of refugees here next month.

“There are so many ways in which people can help make a real difference.

“In addition to the courses, the public can donate directly to the fund or can volunteer to take part in our door to door collection, or sign the petition. Every small deed will make a real difference.”

The courses are being rolled out in connection with the UK-wide ‘Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.’

On September 7, 2015 the Prime Minister announced a significant expansion of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian Refugees over the course of the current UK Parliament.

The scheme will resettle displaced refugees who are currently living in camps in countries neighbouring Syria, principally Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. It does not extend to asylum seekers in Europe or in countries such as Libya.

The First Minister and deputy First Minister signalled to the UK Government their willingness to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugees here under the VPR scheme.

Those admitted under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme are granted five years’ Humanitarian Protection with full access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion comparable to refugees.

The rights and benefits that go with Humanitarian Protection include: access to public funds.

Public funds include a range of benefits that are given to people on a low income, as well as housing support.

This includes child benefit and income-based jobseeker’s allowance.

They will also be entitled to work; will be eligible to claim housing; and will be admitted to schools and be able to receive healthcare.