Q: How many people will be making a home in Moray and where are they from?
A: Moray has now welcomed four Syrian families who arrived in February 2016. They’ve come from camps near the Syrian border, after being forced to leave their homes by the civil war.
Q: Where are they living?
A: These first families are starting a new life in Forres.
Q: Who’s supporting them?
A: Moray Council, other agencies and volunteers are all supporting the families. Some will need particular help to recover from the ordeals they’ve suffered in Syria and to adjust to a new way of life.
Q: How can I help?
A: The families are going to need time and space to adjust. Being friendly and helpful is the best thing we can all do. These folk will need to make new friends in Moray. Do let us know if you can speak Arabic and might help supplement our formal interpreters. Remember that these people have had traumatic experiences. It’s wonderful that there are so many people that want to help in Moray but sometimes we need to just give people space to come to terms with what’s happened to them. It’s got to be all about them and what’s best for them.
You can also volunteer for other activities in support of refugees including sorting and packing donations of clothes for refugee camps overseas, raising funds etc. Do get in touch.
Q: How is this being paid for?
A: The UK Government is meeting the costs of accommodation and integration support, such as health and education costs for the first year. They’ve also indicated that they’ll help with funding in future years.
Q: Are the children going to local schools?
A: Yes. Children pick up new languages really quickly – much quicker than adults. They’re being supported by The Moray Council’s educational and integrated children services.
Q: Do they speak English and if not, how will they find their way around?
A: The Council are providing translators. We’ve also got a list together of volunteers who speak Arabic to help with simple queries. There are more Arabic speakers in Moray than you might think.
Q: Can Moray expect to take in more people?
A: Yes, we think so. Sadly there are plenty of Syrians who need help. But Moray needs to be sure it can properly support people who start a new life here.
Q: How do we know they’re not terrorists?
A: These people are fleeing war and terror. Everyone arriving in Moray under this initiative will have been carefully vetted by the Home Office.
Q: What about local people who have been in the housing queue for a while?
A: Moray is a friendly place and we want to help people fleeing from conflict. There are some housing shortages in Moray but the Council will continue to assess needs as it always has done.
Q: What’s the local Muslim community doing to help?
A: The local Muslim community is very much involved in Moray Supports Refugees. Although the majority of people in Syria are Muslim, there is also a Christian community and other faiths in Syria.
Q: How will people integrate into our community?
A: The families will want some time to settle in and find their feet after having come through some extremely challenging experiences. It’s all going to be very new to them. No matter where people come from, new arrivals need local friends. Being friendly and welcoming is what we do best in Moray.
Q: What challenges can they expect to face?
A: Apart from language, almost everything will be new. Folk will have to get to grips with a different currency, what things cost, different foods, our climate … It’s difficult to anticipate all the challenges but we’re listening and learning.
Q: Will Syrian refugees be able to work?
A: People resettled under the Government scheme will arrive with refugee status, allowing them to work and access benefits.
Q: Will they eventually return to their homes in Syria?
A: Moray is offering Syrian people refuge from the horrors of the civil war. Many have lost their homes completely. We hope that Syria will eventually recover and be a safe place to live again. Until then, people will initially be given 5 years leave to remain in the UK.