A child friendly welcome to Leeds for refugee children

Leeds, Leeds Star

A group of refugee families fleeing war torn Syria have received a special welcome from Child Friendly Leeds, with gifts for the children donated by Leeds City Council staff.

The six families are being welcomed into the city as part of the Leeds Resettlement Programme after being forced to flee their homeland.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:

“We will probably never understand what these children have had to go through during their short lives. The least we can do is to show that they are welcome in our city – that Leeds is a safe haven and a place where all children can thrive.

“I would like to thank children’s services staff who donated and put together the gift packages to help the children and their families settle into their new city.

“Leeds has a long and proud history of welcoming people from many different countries and we would not be the city we are today without our rich and diverse communities from all over the world.”

One young refugee was unable to collect his gift in person as he is in hospital receiving treatment for injuries caused by a bomb in Syria. His mother was very grateful for the gift to help raise his spirits whilst in hospital.

On receiving the gifts with their children, one of the parents commented that the children have never received anything like this so it truly was a warm welcome to the city.

Leeds is as a city of sanctuary with many organisations working together to support refugees from all over the world. The council has agreed to take 225 Syrian refugees over a two year period.

This is the second time Leeds City Council has arranged for gifts to be given to child refugees coming to the city. Toys and arts materials were collected by staff in the council’s children’s services directorate before Christmas last year to give the first group of refugee children a warm welcome to the city.

Events to celebrate national Refugee Week also took place across the city last week (20 – 26 June). The events and activities were organised by the Leeds Refugee Forum to celebrate the contribution of the city’s refugees from all over the world. As well as raising awareness and encouraging a positive look at asylum, the events also help community integration and provide refugees and the wider community with fun and informative activities to take part in.

Anyone in Leeds who would like to do something to help can do so through a number of organisations in the city working with refugees and asylum seekers who rely on the goodwill and generosity of the public:

  • Donations – for direct support to destitute asylum seekers, with food, clothing and money donations – main contact PAFRAS – 0113 262 2163, www.pafras.org.uk. Also Meeting Point in Armley, https://meetingpointleeds.wordpress.com/
  • Volunteer – help with English lessons in refugees’ homes, or provide a room in your home for a destitute asylum seeker to sleep for a day or two. LASSN www.lassn.org.uk
  • Other welcoming activitiesLeeds City of Sanctuary co-ordinate activities to make Leeds more welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers, see their website https://leeds.cityofsanctuary.org/. It includes a link to ‘Here are 6 things you can do to help refugees if you live in Leeds’.
  • Abigail Housing help provide temporary accommodation to help bridge the gap between Home Office support and a successful application for social housing or time to work towards saving a deposit to go into private rented accommodation. More info at www.abigailhousing.org.uk
  • For more information about helping refugees around the region you can also contact Migration Yorkshire at admin@migrationyorkshire.org.uk 0113- 395 2434.