Halton refugee team are Housing Heroes

05.07.2019

A team dedicated to supporting Syrian refugees to resettle in the Halton area has won a prestigious national award in recognition of its work.

Plus Dane Housing’s refugee resettlement programme, delivered in partnership with Merseyside-based SHAP and commissioned by Halton Borough Council, was awarded the Support and Care Team of the Year Award at the Housing Heroes Awards in Manchester on Monday evening.

The team have worked with Halton Borough Council to resettle and integrate refugee families from war-torn Syria in Halton. The families have arrived in the UK as part of the government's Syrian Refugees Resettlement Programme.

Laura Stanley, senior refugee resettlement coordinator for the Plus Dane SHAP partnership, said: “As part of the service we provide we ensure the families have access to appropriate health, education and employment and training opportunities. The service also includes supporting the families to obtain any welfare or benefits they may be entitled to.”

“We also show the families where they can buy food and supplies in the local area, provide them with information about transport services, directions to the nearest mosque, arrange meetings at the job centre and provide support around money and learning to budget. We also make sure that a community is established, arranging opportunities for existing Halton residents to meet the new families in order to alleviate any anxieties and create an overall sense of wellbeing. We find all of these factors help the families to settle and integrate into their new community.”

An out of hours Arabic-speaking point of contact is provided at all times in case of an emergency, but all families are also provided with English lessons to enable them to settle more quickly.  

Andrea Howarth, executive director at Plus Dane, said: “These people are like no others Plus Dane work with. It is unimaginable to contemplate the personal horrors they have experienced, the lives and families they have had to leave behind and the enormity of the step they took to flee their own countries. I’m incredibly proud of the fact that we are able to play a part in helping these families to find a new home and a new life, and grateful to the teams involved in this programme, who do such a wonderful job.”

Ahmed, one of the refugees the team has supported, said: “Plus Dane SHAP cared for us the moment we stepped off the plane, this is something we rarely see. The supervisors have given us so much. They took us to the job centre and they showed us the market and all the stores. They also brought us IDs. We would be lost without them.”

David Parr, chief executive at Halton Borough Council, said: “This award is recognition of the great partnership working that goes on in Halton to support some of the most vulnerable residents in our communities.  We are pleased that the Resettlement Service, which Plus Dane and Shap deliver alongside the Floating Support Service, has played its part in Halton’s response to what is a global crisis which has seen the largest movement of people in generations.”