The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) aims to help the most vulnerable survivors of torture, people with serious medical conditions, and women with children. As a result of the Syrian conflict these people have been displaced from their homes. They are identified by the United Nations (UN) then screened by the Home Office before being resettled in the UK.
What we are doing in Wiltshire
Since the decision made by full council on 29 September 2015 to participate in VPRS, Wiltshire has welcomed 137 individuals into the county across 11 community areas with 11 new-born additions. We have also supported two local groups under Community Sponsorship to each welcome and support a family directly in their local communities. We are currently preparing to welcome a further two families in November and hope to welcome more in 2020.
The VPRS relies heavily on the contributions of our committed volunteers. Under this scheme more than 60 individuals currently provide volunteer support to refugee families across Wiltshire with over 250 involved since 2015.
Many individuals have successfully found work in Wiltshire; a tailor who was offered a training job which developed into successful employment, a painter and decorator, others looking to start their own businesses and another working for Wiltshire Council.
Others have been successfully improving their English and Maths skills, moving up through college classes, undertaking citizenship classes, ESOL fast track classes and one woman attending a beauty therapy course. Many are volunteering; some at a local Mothers and Toddler Group; in the community hub; in charity shops and many more have passed their driving tests, including 3 women. One boy plays football for their local under 11's team.
The first baby was born in Wiltshire in October 2016 and a further 10 babies have been born since. There have also been a couple of marriages and another baby is on the way.
The Moutaweh family
The Moutaweh family were resettled into Wiltshire in May 2018 after they were displaced from their home in Syria. Since this time the family have embraced the challenge of making a new life for themselves and adapted well into their new community.
After lots of hard work Hussein's English is now at a fantastic level and he is aiming to get his Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card in the hope this could open up employment opportunities in the Construction Industry.
Rihab is a passionate learner and is exploring volunteering opportunities to help advance her employability within the hair and beauty industry alongside attending her college ESOL lessons. Both Rihab and Hussein rarely use translation support now. Their son has recently started nursery and is thriving in developing his bilingual skills of Arabic and English.
They are optimistic about their future in Wiltshire and are looking forward to welcoming their second child together to complete their family early next year.
New 2020 Global Resettlement Scheme Announced
Wiltshire will continue to resettle refugees as part of a new global scheme set to start in 2020.
From 2020, the new resettlement scheme will consolidate the Vulnerable Persons' Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme and the gateway protection programme into one global scheme.
The new programme will broaden the geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa.