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Call for landlords who could let empty Islington houses to Syrian refugees

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 October 2017

Yvette Mahon's daughter Nell Farrer, four. Yvette says her family has benefited from living near the refugee family. Picture: Yvette Hunt

Yvette Mahon's daughter Nell Farrer, four. Yvette says her family has benefited from living near the refugee family. Picture: Yvette Hunt

Archant

The volunteers who welcome refugees to Islington are appealing for landlords with empty properties to help them settle two more Syrian families.

Yvette Mahon's sons Dougal and Lucas Farrer, four. Picture: Yvette HuntYvette Mahon's sons Dougal and Lucas Farrer, four. Picture: Yvette Hunt

The Islington Refugee Welcome group has already found privately rented homes for three families in the borough, but is expected to track down a total of five as part of a deal struck in October between its parent body Citizens UK, the council, and the government.

For its own part, the council will use its connections to find five more empty private homes. Whitehall will stump up the rent.

Yvette Mahon, one of the three landlords who has already stepped forward, said: “We wanted to do more than continue to watch the desperate images of refugees on our screens.

“It has been an enormously positive and rewarding thing. It has been about trying to make a small difference to one family at a difficult time in their lives, but also making cultural connections, sharing of experiences, amazing Syrian food and a fast developing friendship between two ordinary families.”

Anyone who hosts a Syrian refugee family is paid rent to the value of housing benefit, and gets help decorating and furnishing the property if they want it.

Yvette added: “Life isn’t easy for them here in London, either, but they are positive and resilient and slowly they are jigsaw-ing together a new life.

“We are extremely happy we’ve been able to add at least one piece to that jigsaw.”

The National Refugee Welcome Board was set up by community umbrella group Citizens UK. The initial plan was to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees who had fled war and terrorism by 2020.

"It has been about trying to make a small difference to one family at a difficult time in their lives, but also making cultural connections, sharing of experiences, amazing Syrian food and a fast developing friendship between two ordinary families"

Yvette Mahon

Islington’s community development chief Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “Islington was one of the first local authorities to welcome vulnerable people fleeing the Syrian conflict.

“Islington has so far accepted 10 families – 34 adults and children – into our community. That number includes three

babies born in the UK. One was born just last week.

“We are incredibly proud to be a partner in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, offering refuge and aid to families fleeing a truly horrific humanitarian crisis.”

Can you help? E-mail the Editor on ramzy.alwakeel@archant.co.uk and your details will be passed on to the group.

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