Town to open door to Syrian refugees

Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson.
Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson.

Up to 100 refugees fleeing war torn Syria will be resettled in Bedford over the next five years.

The first of 20 families moved into privately-rented accomodation in the borough this year – with another expected in the coming weeks.

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson, who previously called on Bedford to “take in its fair share”, welcomed news that four families will arrive each year until 2020.

He said: “These families, with children, have been made homeless and extremely vulnerable by a devasting war which is causing unimaginable human suffering.

“They are in desperate need of a safe, stable home for their children, and that is what we are working to provide, alongside excellent local charities like BRASS and the King’s Arms Project.

“Those charities and their volunteers have harnessed local support from numerous generous local residents and organisations, while the landlord involved has been very good in helping the family to settle.”

Last week Bedford’s cash-strapped neighbours, Northants County Council, told the Government it will not be rehoming Syrian refugees because of its current financial state.

But Bedford has demonstrated a more welcoming response with an increase

in number of volunteers working at Beds Refugee and

Asylum Seeker Support (BRASS) double in the past few months.

Co-ordinator Brian Cunningham has urged Bedford residents to persuade the council to welcome even more refugees.

He said: “There has been a sea change since that devastating picture of the young Syrian boy washed up on the beach.

“Since then everyone wants to help.

“I’m sure if people contacted the council and their MP then we could persuade them to welcome even more into Bedford.”

Richard Fuller MP said it was down to the mayor to give the go ahead to house more refugees – despite potential public backlash.

He said: “We have to ensure we do not lose our compassion for people in need. Immigration is a completely seperate issue. So many of my constituents have got in touch to offer a room or financial support.

“We should be proud of our history that people come here for safety.”