1KH_8938.jpgSyrian refugees Obama Basheer, 8, holds her sister, Joud, 6 months

In the fourth of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area – Eleanor Taylor reports on the family’s imminent arrival

We are delighted to be able to write this final instalment of our refugee project series, and update readers on the outcome of the initiative. In our last article, we confirmed that our application to resettle a Syrian refugee family in Wanstead had just been successfully accepted by the Home Office, and we are now being matched with a family by the UNHCR.

Once the final details are confirmed, we are hoping to welcome our matched refugee family at the airport by the end of this month. We will then be working with the family to help them settle into the local area, which will be particularly challenging in light of the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Thank you so much to all of you in the Wanstead and surrounding communities who have given us your well-wishes, encouragement and kind donations over the last year. It has been so heartening to know that our local community is ready to welcome a refugee family. We have received so many generous donations of household items, volunteers’ time and money to pay for the family’s essentials, and we truly could not have achieved this without the help and support of those of you who have followed our journey.

Our family will be moving to safety in London as part of an initial scheme to resettle a limited number of refugees from the Syrian conflict, but a subsequent scheme to resettle another 5,000 Syrian refugees has been postponed indefinitely. It is now up to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to determine whether this second scheme will go ahead, and whether these vulnerable people will be able to restart their lives in the safety of the UK.

The situation for refugees from the Syrian conflict is as precarious as it has ever been. Fires have recently destroyed temporary refugee housing in Lebanon, and the threat of Covid-19 – without access to adequate hand washing and sterilising facilities – continues to worsen.

The good news is that you can still help. A number of organisations have launched campaigns, such as Refugee Action’s Missing Piece campaign, to ensure the Home Office agrees to restart the planned scheme to resettle Syrian refugees in the UK. By writing to your MP, you can ask them to lobby the government on your behalf, and on behalf of Syrian refugees who remain in unsafe, unsanitary camps across the Middle East.

We will be continuing to work with our new family throughout 2021, but as we are sure you will understand, we want to maintain the family’s privacy as they build their new lives here. However, if you have any queries about the campaign, please do get in touch.

For more information, follow the group on Twitter @RefugeeWanstead or email refugeewelcomewanstead@gmail.com