November 2015: Some of the RSLs offering housing to Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, joined by Duncan Campsie, head of the refugee support team of Glasgow city council) which is not a member of COSLA). Jim Strang, CEO of Parkhead HA, chairs the group. Zhan McIntyre is Policy Lead at the SFHA, David Bookbinder is the head of the Glasgow West of Scotland Housing Associations Forum.
We brought together Scottish RSLs to form the Scottish Registered Social Landlords Syria Response Group on September 7th 2015. The Group has Scottish wide support, and is backed by both the SFHA and the Glasgow West of Scotland Housing associations Forum.
The Group will meet for a fixed term with the goal of collectively contributing available housing stock to meet the needs of Syrian refugees who are being brought in under the UK government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.
Commitment and good will is the key, not numbers. By making a collective contribution, smaller RSLs can contribute whatever housing they feel they have the capacity to contribute and larger RSLs can often contribute more to the overall pool. The point is to collectively work to increase the offer capacity to offer refuge wherever we can.
The Scottish Government has agreed to bring in 1,000 Syrian refugees a year. The UK Government has decided to bring in 20,000 refugees over a five year period. The group agree that given we are facing the biggest refugee crisis in Europe’s history since WW2, that Scotland and the UK has the capacity to take in far, far more refugees than that. There exists very high quality housing in rural areas of Scotland which are lying empty, 50 at a time, because the local population is in decline. Housing is critical and we recognise other support would have to also be put in place. Opportunities exist therefore to give refugee and regenerate local communities.
The meeting is a Scottish wide response.
Rural and Urban RSLs have a significant contribution to make to the collective response. Future meetings will take place in other towns and cities as agreed by the group in order to be ensure inclusivity.
RSLs who wish to note their offers of housing to their local authorities can submit these online. For the link, email firstname.lastname@example.org.