Syrian refugee resettlement in West Sussex

West Sussex response to the Syrian refugee crisis


Syria has been in the grips of a multi-sided armed conflict since March 2011. Over 13.5 million people – including six million children – are in need of humanitarian assistance within Syria and the registered Syrian refugee population in the region is now in excess of four million.

In addition to providing funding to meet the needs of vulnerable people in Syria and of refugees in the region, the Government announced on 7 September 2015 that the scheme would be expanded to resettle up to 20,000 Syrians in need of protection in the UK during this Parliament. Towards the end of 2020 the Government moved to a new Scheme called UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), which now includes refugees from around the world and commits to resettle a further 5,000 refugees in 2021.

The Government is working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to identify more vulnerable Syrians that they deem in need of resettlement and whose particular needs can only be met in countries like the UK.

Local authorities across the country have been asked if they would be able to participate in the scheme that will bring those people from the camps to begin new and safe lives in the UK.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) in conjunction with all of the district and borough councils, the Clinical Commissioning Groups in West Sussex, Sussex Police and voluntary groups across the county have committed to take part and have offered places for 60 families or 240 people to arrive over the duration of the scheme. Under the new UKRS West Sussex will commit to resettle a further 8-10 families during 2021. 

The refugees arriving under this scheme are funded by the Government who are making money available from the International Development Fund. This will cover costs for providing caseworkers, securing housing, social care, health, education and support to integrate. Each case will be different as each family will have different needs, different skills and different backgrounds. The refugees will be encouraged and supported to find employment.

WSCC has a core offer of family support in place that seeks to build family resilience and independence. The intensive support which is available to each family for the first three months will have a Keyworker allocated from the Early Help Service. The Keyworker will support the family to access key services such as GPs, schools, benefits and English language sessions initially. Following the three month intensive support, the support will transition from Keyworkers to volunteers.

How can I help?

Many organisations and individuals have come forward to offer help and the county council and its partners are very grateful for the support. We are working to find ways in which people can help the refugees get used to life in West Sussex and the UK and help to ensure they are not isolated. The key areas of help are in housing supply and volunteer support. More information can be found under 'Further information' in the 'How can I help' tab.

Support from the voluntary and community sector adds invaluable skills and resource to the scheme and increases the chances of the family resettling quickly, whilst ensuring the scheme is more sustainable in the long run.

The volunteer groups have supported the scheme in different ways including; Property preparation, such as painting and decorating; family support – working with keyworkers to support the family orientating them to life in West Sussex and; English language- topping up their formal learning with 121 support and conversational English, and training and life skills. The groups have also helped fund a number of activities to enable the families to resettle and integrate into West Sussex life.

Further information



How many refugee families have arrived and how many are still to come?

As of the end of July 2020, 48 families have arrived in West Sussex as follows:

Number of refugee family arrivals: Reading left to right for the district and then the number of families placed in each.
District Number of families
 Adur and Worthing  8
 Arun  3
 Chichester  8
 Crawley  10
 Horsham  9
 Mid Sussex  10

Each district and borough council area will house families as and when appropriate housing becomes available. We will also ensure that services including schools and GPs are not inundated with new pupils or patients as a result of these people coming to the county.

How do you know these people will be genuine refugees, not economic migrants?

In order to qualify for this scheme, people must be within the refugee camps in the region, register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and must meet one of the following criteria:

  • women and girls at risk
  • survivors of violence and/or torture
  • refugees with legal and/or physical protection needs
  • refugees with medical needs or disabilities
  • children and adolescents at risk
  • persons at risk due to their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • refugees with family links in resettlement countries.

Once registered the UNHCR undertake biometric testing, health assessments and case history gathering. Once cases are confirmed, details are passed to Governments of participating countries (UK, USA, Canada and others) for the next stage.

For the UK, the Home Office then conducts further security and background checks and the Government retains the right to reject individuals on security, war crimes or other grounds, including where there is insufficient information to undertake effective screening.

Where are the refugees coming from?

The refugees in this scheme will be coming from camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

Refugees or asylum seekers that have made their way across Europe are not part of this scheme and so none will be coming from France, Greece or any other European Union country.

Where will you house these families and will these people get preferential treatment for housing?

In partnership with district and borough councils we are looking at all of the possible options for housing refugees. Council and housing association properties will only be made available if the refugees meet the ‘eligibility and qualification’ criteria for Housing Allocation Schemes published by each of the local district and borough councils. We are also seeking support from private landlords.

Will this affect people already on the housing waiting list?

The numbers of families coming over the period, accommodated across the whole county equates to no more than ten new families, per district or borough, during the life of the scheme. We are also encouraging private landlords to come forward where possible.

The county council and the local councils are confident that by limiting the number of people coming to West Sussex there will be not be a significant, negative impact on housing stock.

Why are you not doing the same to help homeless people in the county?

The district and borough councils and the county council continue to work to support all vulnerable people in the county, including those that are homeless.

The scheme will not distort those efforts that are already being made to support the vulnerable people in West Sussex.

The support for vulnerable people is via direct assistance by district and borough housing teams, or by the support that is given to a range of charitable organisations that directly help those living on the streets or who are at risk of homelessness. To find out more about the services on offer please visit the 'Help with homelessness' web page.

Who is paying for resettling the Syrian refugees? And how much will this cost?

The refugees arriving under this scheme are funded by the Home Office in collaboration with the International Development Fund. This covers initial costs for providing caseworkers, securing housing, social care, health, education and support to integrate. Each case will be different as each family will have different needs, different skills and different backgrounds.

Funding from Government will reduce after the first year but does continue throughout the leave to remain period of five years. The refugees will be encouraged and supported to find employment.

When council services are being cut how will the council meet the extra costs of taking refugees?

Not all of the refugees will require support from social services or additional health services and we have requested that no complex cases or those that require nursing or residential care are sent to West Sussex. Funding is made available from Government whilst the refugees are here and, from the second year of their stay, they will also be included in the per capita funding that West Sussex receives as part of its funding settlement from Government.

How long will refugees stay here?

When the resettled refugees arrive, they are granted a five year humanitarian protection visa. At the end of this period individuals can apply for settlement in the UK or, if they choose to, return to Syria.

How long will you support these families for?

Caseworkers will be made available to work with the families for the first three months of their stay. We anticipate that this will be intensive for the first two to four weeks as the families become established but that the amount of input required will lessen over time. Following that initial support the families will be supported in the same way as any other West Sussex family.

It is expected that volunteer and community groups will takeover supporting the families after the first three months with minimal support from caseworkers.  

What will the public support entail?

Many organisations and individuals have come forward to offer help and the county council and its partners are very grateful for the support. We are working to find ways in which people can help the refugees get used to life in West Sussex and the UK and help to ensure they are not isolated. As further information becomes available as to how the public can get involved we will post updates to this page.

Will Syrian refugees be able to claim benefits?

Yes. As full humanitarian refugees, they will be able to claim benefits and have the same rights and responsibilities as anyone living in the UK.

How can I help?

How can I help?

There are three ways you can help:

  • Provide housing
  • Volunteer services
  • Donations

How do I donate money or other items to refugees?

The Government advises the best way to help refugees is to donate money to humanitarian organisations or charities who are already working with refugees. The information on the 'Syrian refugees: what you can do to help' web page on the Government's website lists the main charities taking donations. For people offering clothes, bedding, books, toys and other items, the website suggests donating them to charity shops, including those run by the British Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam, which accept good quality items. The items themselves are not sent to refugees but the money raised from sales will be directed to helping refugees. More advice on donating funds or items can be found on the 'Syrian refugees: what you can do to help' web page on the Government's website.

How do I offer a property to house refugees?

Information about offering to house refugees can be found under the 'Information for landlords' tab.

What if I want to offer a room in my house to a refugee?

At this stage we are only taking families as part of the scheme. The Government has been clear that they must be accommodated in self-contained properties that have their own front door and that are available for a period of at least two years. This overcomes potential difficulties in respect of people not getting on, issues of vulnerability or of the accommodation not being suitable or sustainable. As a result we are not able to accept offers of rooms to house refugees.

Can I help by fostering a Syrian child refugee?

This programme does not include unaccompanied children and as there is a lack of foster care placements in West Sussex we would not be in a position currently to offer any spaces. There is an ongoing need for foster carers in the county for all children who are, for whatever reason, unable to live with their parents or extended families. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer please contact us via the 'Contact us about fostering' web page on the West Sussex County Council website or phone 0800 121 65 08.

Where can I volunteer to help refugees?

The Government is advising people who want to find out how to volunteer to help refugees to contact one of the national charities and organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers across the UK. More information on these organisations is available on the 'Syrian refugees: what you can do to help' web page on the Government's website.

20 simple acts is a way you can help – visit to find out more. If you want to find out about local volunteering opportunities in West Sussex to support refugees, please contact Tim Tuckett in the Refugee Resettlement team at WSCC

Where can I find out more?

The 'Syrian refugees: what you can do to help' web page on the Government's website details more information on what individuals and groups can do.

When can we expect Syrian refugees to arrive?

The Government commitment to bring 20,000 refugees of the Syrian conflict to the UK was made in September 2015, with arrivals spanning 5 years.

The first refugees coming to West Sussex have arrived and are learning about and adapting to life in a new country.


Information for prospective landlords

Collective challenge and what we need:

  • To find a further 6 houses before the end of March 2021
  • Collective approach to working with private landlords to find feasible solutions for housing supply
  • Self contained Home Office compliant accommodation with easy access to local services and amenities

Home Office compliance means houses need to be safe, to have passed all landlord checks, self contained, in good condition.

Our offer:

  • Assured refundable deposit - no agency fees (but still get equivalent services of a letting agent), arrange tenancy agreement, and other agreements as necessary (between Scheme and Landlord for deposit) etc.
  • We offer rent that falls within the local housing allowance bands.
  • Scheme provides for redecorating the property to an acceptable standard, and will ensure ongoing essential maintenance as part of our duty of care obligations to the tenant.
  • You will be guaranteed a long term tenancy – which is secured by the Scheme - we are looking for properties that can ideally be let for a five year period. This period is to allow the refugees time to settle and integrate within the community, it allows for them to create a safe space through the stability provided in having a fixed address.

Refugees who arrive under the Government scheme will arrive with refugee status, this allows them to work and have full entitlement to state benefits, which allows them to access Universal Credit (UC)

Within the first few weeks the refugees will be registered with the DWP and those in receipt of benefits will be expected to claim Universal Credit (UC) to pay for their housing costs.

The housing cost element of UC can be paid directly to the tenant and they will be responsible for paying the landlord or in agreed cases paid directly to the Landlord. If there are any concerns over payments the landlord will be given direct contact details for the Scheme  team at County Hall who will be able to assist and investigate any problems.

Tenants will also be responsible for paying utility bills and any problems should be reported to the Scheme.

Your property will be looked after, and we will get the property ready for the new tenant's, including basic home maintenance; carpets, painting, curtains etc we will also furnish the property - there are a large number of volunteers who help us in this task.

We will ensure that the property is being looked after and maintained throughout the tenancy period – your property will return to you in good condition, ready to be let again. We can discuss individual requirements on a case by case basis.

If you are interested in letting your property or would like more information, please contact Sarah Brown at:

Refugees: did you know?

What the terms mean:

There’s often confusion around the labels used to describe refugees, which can be unhelpful. Below, are the most common terms used to describe people who leave their countries for different reasons.


A refugee:

• has proven that they’d be at risk if returned to their home country
• has had their claim for asylum accepted by the government
• can now stay here either long term or indefinitely.
• Refugees have a right under UK and international law to bring their immediate family members to join them.

Asylum seekers

An asylum seeker:

• flees their home
• arrives in another country, whichever way they can
• makes themselves known to the authorities
• submits an asylum application
• has a legal right to stay in the country while waiting for a decision.

In 2016, the UK received applications for asylum for 39,000 individuals (including dependants) – far less than Germany (692,000), Italy (117,000) and France (83,000).

In the same year, 34 per cent of initial applications (not including appeals) were accepted.

The UK ranked 17th in Europe in terms of asylum applications per head of the population.

You can find out more in the Home Office national statistics on asylum and on the Refugee Council website.

Refused asylum seekers

A refused asylum seeker:

• hasn’t been able to prove that they would face persecution back home
• has been denied protection by the authorities
• must now leave the country – unless they want to appeal the decision or it isn’t safe or practical for them to return home (for example, they have a serious health condition or can’t get the documents they need to travel).

Economic migrants

An economic migrant:

• has moved to another country to work
• could be living there legally or illegally depending on how they entered the country
• may or may not have a legal work permit.

You can learn more about displaced people from the UN Refugee Agency.

Share this