On Friday 19 September, the Home Secretary Alan Johnson visited the Refugee Council’s offices in Hull and met some of the refugees who are being helped by the Refugee Council to rebuild their lives in the city.
The Refugee Council is the leading independent human rights charity working with asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. In Hull, it works mainly with refugee families who have been resettled there through the government’s Gateway resettlement scheme, which each year takes in some of the most vulnerable refugees from refugee camps around the world.
As part of the government’s Gateway resettlement programme, the Refugee Council in Hull welcomes resettled refugees to the UK, and helps them find their way around, look for work, get help to learn English and get their children into schools.
Many of the refugees are from Iraq, having been forced to flee the violence there. Commenting after the visit, one of the resettled refugees, Ahmed al-Barall said that “It was an amazing opportunity to meet someone so senior in Government.”
Home Secretary Alan Johnson, MP for Hull West and Hessle today said:
“I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the Refugee Council in Hull and see the excellent work that they are doing. The refugees who come through the Gateway resettlement programme are some of the most vulnerable in the world and I am proud that the people in my constituency have given them such a warm welcome and supported them to rebuild their lives in safety.
“The UK is leading the way in Europe with its resettlement programme and we hope that more European countries will join us in offering shelter to people who have been forced to flee and are unable to return home. Here too, we hope that more towns and cities join the Gateway programme and offer refugees the opportunity of a new life here in Britain.”
Charlotte Cooke, Operations Manager for the Refugee Council in Yorkshire and Humberside added:
“We were very pleased to welcome the Home Secretary to our offices to see the great work that is happening in his constituency. Refugees resettled through the Gateway programme have come from some of the most troubled parts of the world and have no realistic prospect of ever returning home. The programme is therefore extremely important and we welcome the government’s efforts to expand the programme to enable more of the world’s most vulnerable refugees to settle in the UK.
“The people of Hull have been tremendously welcoming, and have enabled the new arrivals to make a really positive contribution to the city. They have set a great example to other cities considering joining the Gateway scheme.”
Councillor Stephen Baker, portfolio holder for equalities at Hull City Council said:
“Hull City Council is pleased to be able to support the Refugee Council in the outstanding work it carries out. Refugees who have started new lives here have found a welcome, and the mix of different cultures has helped Hull to develop a more vibrant, exciting atmosphere experienced recently at the fantastic celebrations during our Freedom Festival weekend.”