District Council co-ordinates action for refugees
During the week WODC received a number of calls from residents asking how they can help the plight of Syrian refugees by donating money or goods or providing housing.
The Housing team have received four firm offers of accommodation from residents, one of these was from a businesswoman whose family were originally refugees that came to this country. However, they do not know how these can be used as they await further instructions about the resettlement programme from central government.
On Wednesday Housing Officers Jon Dearing and Michelle Clifford attended a housing meeting between all the relevant authorities in Oxford. Each authority agreed to stay in touch to ensure there was no duplication of work and resources. A joint statement is being prepared to say the councils are working together to ensure the best possible outcome. A second meeting will take place next Thursday.
On Monday evening there was a presentation about helping refugees at the Como lounge in Witney, which WODC officer Diana Shelton and Cllrs Janet Baker, Duncan Enright and Andy Graham all attended. It was given by Hannah and Andy Bailey who are linked to St Mary's Church in Cogges as they set up 'Crying out for Calais', after having visited the camps there. They are now collecting donations for their next trip and are very specific about what is needed; this includes camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, matches etc) and men's winter coats. 'Crying out for Calais' is a humanitarian effort toward those in the camps and they came over as being well organised.
Other organisations collecting items for refugees attended and it was apparent that their immediate need is help with storage. Diana is looking to see if there are any ways to assist with this.
WODC are getting a picture of what organisations there are in West Oxfordshire currently accepting donations so that they can signpost people who want to donate, and work with them to support them where needed. They are also mapping where existing collection points are to see if there are gaps that they can help with.
This signposting information and a general update is now up on the WODC website, see www.westoxon.gov.uk/refugees