Syrian families on Bute now regard the island as their home and are growing and thriving since their arrival just two years ago.
At a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council today (Thursday), members noted a report which outlined how the families have been welcomed with open arms by the people of Bute and how they have integrated well into the local community.
A total of 24 Syrian families have been resettled since 2015. Four babies have been born since they arrived – strengthening their links with Bute even further and providing a welcome boost to the local population. More babies are due in the next few months.
The families are keen to provide for themselves and contribute to life on the island. One of the refugee men has been successful in opening his own Barbershop business. Two families have successfully secured funding and are hoping to open a patisserie and coffee shop in the New Year. A number of others are actively seeking work.
The refugees attend eight hours of English lessons per week and many take part in a skills for work programme with Argyll College. They have also been supporting a wide variety of local events and projects by volunteering.
The children have settled in well at Rothesay Joint Campus. The involvement of the school has very much been at the heart of the response and the support to the families, reflecting the school’s role in the community and acknowledging that the decisions our families made to come to the UK were to afford their children a safer and better life.
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Aileen Morton said: “The Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme has been a great success, both for Bute and for the families involved. It’s heartening to see families settling and growing in the community to the benefit of all. This stands as testament to the local people and refugee families alike.
“But from day one this programme has been about helping families in desperate need to build secure lives in Argyll and Bute; it’s been about helping people fleeing trauma to feel safe and I am delighted that they now feel able to refer to Bute as their home.
“The families have settled into their new lives well, taking part in activities in the community, setting up their own stalls at the Sunday market, attending local events, and are keen to provide for themselves.
“All this wouldn’t have been possible though without the help and support of all the council staff involved, our partner agencies, volunteers and the local community of Bute. They have been invaluable over the last two years and I would like to sincerely thank them for all their hard work.”
Notes to editors
In 2015, Argyll and Bute Council became one of the first local authorities in Scotland to respond to the humanitarian crisis when it agreed to resettle 20 families through the Home Office’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.
In November 2016 elected members noted the success of the programme
and agreed to the resettlement of further families on Bute beyond the initial 20
To date the council has resettled 24 families on Bute. Five families have since
moved from the island to join relatives elsewhere in the UK.
To view the full report, visit: https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s121810/Year%202%20Report.pdf