‘Fleetwood must be ready to welcome the refugees’

Refugees in Hungary
Refugees in Hungary

Fleetwood residents have been urged to roll out the welcome mat for refugees from war-torn Syria.

A group has been set up to try to help refugees caught up in the growing humanitarian crisis.

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

And some residents have said they are ready to provide a home for desperate families affected by the crisis.

It comes as Fleetwood’s MP Cat Smith called for action to try and ease what she called Europe’s biggest humanitarian disaster since the Second World War.

Ms Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has asked Wyre Council to join in a summit to discuss what can be done locally to help the refugees pouring out of war-torn Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Calls to help the refugees have intensified since the shocking deaths of two little Syrian boys, who were washed up on a Turkish beach last week.

We are a group of friends from Fleetwood who felt we had to do something

Nina Beavers

The Fleetwood Folk Support Syrian Refugees group has set up a Facebook page to act as a forum for those who want to help.

In just a handful of days it has grown over 200 members.

Fleetwood woman Nina Beavers, 48, said: “We are a group of friends from Fleetwood who felt we had to do something.

“We are helping to direct people to where the collection points are, and basically offering a forum where people who want to help can come together.

“There are a number of Fleetwood people who want to take refugees into their home.

“It is growing because people didn’t want to just do nothing.”

Already the Facebook page is attracting members from outside Fleetwood as well.

Ms Smith is calling for more to be dome.

She said: “Our local communities can play a role, including the local council.

“This is now the worst humanitarian crisis to reach European shores since the Second World War.

“We are all proud of Britain’s role of offering a sanctuary to those fleeing conflict and persecution.

“I have been calling on the government to do more to help Syrian refugees since I was elected in May,”

The MP has written to Wyre leader, Coun Peter Gibson, to attend a forthcoming summit of local authority leaders, organised by Citizens UK, to agree what more can be done locally to support refugees and asylum seekers.

Coun Gibson said: ”Wyre Council can do its bit to help but we are looking at a meeting of housing officers from councils across the North West , who are perhaps in the best position to help.

“It is through out housing experts that we can best gauge what we are able to do.”

Prime Minster David Cameron has now made an announce ment that Britain will take in 20,000 refugees over the remainder of the four year term the Government has in office.

Coun Gibson said: “That equates to be about six refugees over the whole of the constituency per year, which is not going to break the bank in our area in theory, but we don’t know how it would pan out in reality.”

Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said: “There will be a welcome mat in Fleetwood, but bearing in mind that Fleetwood is a deprived area with a housing shortage, there is a limit to what we can do.”

He said any help would entail working with private landlords, social housing and benefit agencies to ensure that assistance could be provided.