Lewisham Council is set to resettle more refugees than anywhere else in London.
Some 100 families will benefit from Lewisham Council’s refugee resettlement programme which helps families find housing, children settle into new schools and adults find work.
In 2017 Lewisham Council started supporting 15 refugee families from Syria and Iraq – around 70 people – and received fantastic community backing for the scheme, in particular volunteers from Lewisham Citizens (part of Citizens UK), local faith groups and the local Amnesty International branch.
Lewisham residents have offered homes for families, local people have donated household items and furniture, 10 local restaurants offered refugees free meals, and Lewisham’s voluntary and charity sector have helped families integrate into the local community, especially through essential English language lessons.
The council’s plans to help more refugees coincide with Refugee Week (18–24 June) where Lewisham is learning from the experiences of those who have already benefited from the programme.
Lewisham aims to become a Sanctuary Borough and protect the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. It is the 15th most diverse borough in the country and has a proud history welcoming migrants from the Second World War up to the present day.
In May the new Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, appointed former refugee Liane Segal as Mayoress of Lewisham. Liane fled her home in Vienna with the Kindertransport to escape the Nazis in 1939.
Cllr Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Democracy, Refugees & Accountability, said: ‘Lewisham is leading the way in providing a safe place for refugees to live their lives free from persecution and fear. We are a borough that’s stronger for welcoming residents from all corners of the globe and the message is clear – refugees are welcome in Lewisham.’
The council’s determination to act comes at a time when there more refugees around the world than at any other time in history with millions fleeing from conflict and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa.
If you would like to lend your support to the programme please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly keen to hear from businesses that can offer training or employment opportunities.