Plea to Harrogate residents to help refugees

Refugees at the now-demolished 'Jungle' camp near Calais.
Refugees at the now-demolished 'Jungle' camp near Calais.

Youth homelessness charity SASH is urgently seeking volunteers with a spare room in Harrogate to provide a home for vulnerable young asylum seekers from trouble spots such as Syria.

Following the government pledge to resettle Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children in the UK, SASH has been asked by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) to offer its Supported Lodgings service to 16-17 year old refugees.

SASH specialises in working with volunteer ‘hosts’ to provide accommodation and support to young homeless people, keeping them safe at a time of crisis and helping them to move on into permanent accommodation.

Clare Usher, SASH’s communications manager, said: “In terms of how long they have been travelling to get to North Yorkshire, one of our current young people was on the road for three years. One or two years’ travel time is quite common.”

The charity currently has seven hosts in Harrogate, who last year helped more than 60 young people in the area avoid homelessness through its Nightstop and Supported Lodgings schemes.

Amber Seaver, SASH Young Persons Coordinator in Harrogate said: “We know that Harrogate is a friendly and welcoming town and we are confident that many people will want to open their homes to help.

“We already have four young asylum seekers awaiting a Supported Lodgings place in Harrogate. Like many in their situation, they have faced an incredibly difficult and, sometimes, traumatic journey to safety at a very young age and without any family members to help them.

“Having a caring place from which to start rebuilding their lives is essential to helping them regain some stability and contribute positively to the local community here in Harrogate.”

The charity currently hosts young people from Ethiopia and Iraq in its Supported Lodgings in York and Hull.

But there are also some youngsters from Somalia in the reception centre in Harrogate who are awaiting a placement.

SASH says the need is urgent as the youngsters in most cases have not seen their own family home for a matter of years, rather than months.

The young people SASH is helping are those who have made their own way to the UK or who have been accepted for resettlement from the camps in Calais such as the now dismantled ‘Jungle’.

Anyone who thinks they might be able to help should phone 01904 652043 or visit www.sash-uk.org.uk