7 September 2016
Sheffield is set to carry on helping refugees fleeing war-torn countries with the continuation of a Government-funded refugee resettlement programme.
The city, the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, has helped to resettle refugees since 2004 through the Government’s ‘Gateway Protection Programme’. The City Council was the first local authority to do this and has helped approximately 90 people each year from countries including Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.
Sheffield City Council is now set to continue the programme until March 2020, to help a further 75 people each year. This is in addition to the authority’s existing agreement to help 75 Syrian refugees each year for the next three years.
A formal decision on this is planned to be made next week by Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council.
Rose Bazzie, a Liberian refugee, was one of the first people to be resettled in Sheffield through the Gateway Protection Programme. She arrived in the city in March 2004 and is now a qualified nurse, working at the Northern General Hospital.
Rose said: “I fled my country, Liberia, in 1990 to escape the war. I had to leave Liberia after my grandfather’s village was attacked; most of my relatives were killed.
“I lived in a refugee camp in Guinea for over a decade: it was depressing there. Then my husband, son and I heard we were going to be resettled to the UK.
“I remember the day we arrived – I was shocked at how cold it was. I was only wearing slippers and a dress! Adapting to life in Sheffield has been challenging but it’s now my home.
“I’ve been very grateful to be able to come to the UK: I can’t even compare it to my life in the refugee camp. Not only have I survived, but I’ve made the most of every opportunity I’ve had.”
Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is a welcoming and inclusive city. We’re the fourth largest in England and it’s important that we do our bit to respond to the refugee crisis, and help people fleeing war and persecution.
“We were the first local authority to welcome refugees when the Gateway programme started and we’re pleased we’ve been able to help people build new lives in Sheffield and escape desperate situations.
“We’re being careful in our response and offering to support the number of people we know we can effectively help.”
The council works with the Refugee Council to help people settle into a new life in the city. The Refugee Council’s Head of Advocacy, Dr. Lisa Doyle, said: “Sheffield has a long tradition of protecting and welcoming refugees and the people of Sheffield should feel proud that for over a decade they have helped give hope and a brighter, safer future to so many refugee families.”
Sheffield is a city of more than 563,000 people. It has helped to resettle 1,162 refugees since 2004. Of these, 70 are from Syria.