So much has been written over recent weeks about the desperate plight of refugees fleeing Syria for Europe. The debate about how many refugees the UK (and other European countries) should accept is far from over and a satisfactory answer from the Government to both the short-term and long-term problems, both of which are extremely complex, is still a long way away, I fear.
I’m a father and a granddad, so obviously like the rest of the world that image of a little boy’s body washed up on a beach stunned me. Of course it’s a human instinct to want to reach out and help the children and families in the same desperate position as him and his family and I’m heartened that so many people, in our Borough and across the UK, are now keen to do exactly that.
Within the Council, our discussions have very much reflected those which I imagine are taking place in every town hall in the country. We in Knowsley must – and will – play our part in helping in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. That is absolutely the right thing to do and I am confident that Knowsley will be able and willing to give them a warm welcome. You can read more about our position on the Council’s website.
Of course, as we continue to experience Government attacks on our budget, we also have to wonder “How will we afford this?” and “Can we give these people the support they need and deserve when they come here?”
I am very hopeful that the answer to both questions will be “yes” – but much depends on what financial support the Government decides to offer. They need to help local authorities like us find the finances needed to ensure we can meet the needs of refugees. These are extraordinary circumstances and these costs cannot be found at the same time as making the cuts that we are already having to make.
We know that the need to help refugees is immediate and we are ready to begin identifying homes for them as soon as the picture is clearer.
I’ve also been really pleased to hear about several local efforts to gather supplies for refugees. There is a list of these on the council’s website, so, if you’re wondering how you can help, then getting in contact with one of these organisations is a good start.