Landlords in the UK are being urged to do their bit to help victims of the humanitarian crisis in Syria by three famous UK residents. Comedian Miranda Hart, award-winning actress Dame Harriet Walter and Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs, who was a child refugee from Nazi Germany, have joined forces in a bid to find more landlords willing to take in refugees from war-torn Syria.
The three celebrities are promoting a film, produced by the Hammersmith and Fulham branch of “Refugees Welcome”, which highlights the stories of Syrians who have already settled in the UK and the positive experience of their landlords in the private sector.
The video can be seen online here: Miranda Hart, Harriet Walter & Alf Dubs call out to UK landlords to rent to Syrian refugees
One of the film’s producers and local volunteer Joanne MacInnes says, “Unfortunately not many people realise that the only way to get Syrians out of camps is by securing accommodation for them first. We need philanthropic landlords to come forward and offer any sized property – from studio flats to much larger accommodation to enable families to stay together.”
Under the UK Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), landlords are paid housing benefit rates while their local authority undertakes most of the work involved in settling the refugees. The scheme’s mission is to rehome 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrians from refugee camps in and around the stricken country – but none of them can gain entry to the UK until accommodation had been found for them.
Syrians are selected from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and undergo Home Office Security checks. Once a property has been found a family can be resettled in as little as six weeks.
Dame Harriet, whose TV and film roles include Downton Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, said: “I’ve met these people face to face. I visited the camp in Calais – The Jungle – a year ago before it was torn down. We all have our prejudices and we think of great hordes of people but when you think about the individuals rather than the statistics it’s different. It’s a human story, it’s not even a political issue – it goes beyond politics.”
Her message to landlords is: “If you’ve been appalled and moved by the scenes of suffering on TV and in the media, then this could be your opportunity to make a real difference – right on your doorstep.”
Hammersmith and Fulham landlord Anita Soley, who welcomed a Syrian family into her house a month ago, says: “I wanted to help refugees in London, just as my refugee parents were welcomed by the UK in 1938. So when I picked up a flyer from the local Welcome Refugess group I jumped at the chance of renting out my flat. I had no idea I could use my flat for such a worthwhile purpose.”
“The VPRS scheme does practically everything. It chooses the most needy Syrian families from the refugee camps, pays the local council to pay me the Housing Benefit and the volunteers at Refugees Welcome helped with arrangements like getting furniture and integration. I urge anyone with an available self contained property to join the scheme.”
Miranda Hart tweeted this evening: “Thrilled to help find homes 4 Syrians &get them out of awful camps. If u r a landlord w big pls watch https://www.youtube.com/
Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Welcome Website: https://hfrefugeeswelcome.uk/l
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