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Dorset Council says it has received ‘heart-warming’ messages from Syrian refugee families who have settled in Dorset and now want to help their local communities during these difficult times.

Jenny Willoughby who works as a refugee resettlement programme officer for Dorset Council, said: ‘We are incredibly lucky to have an army of volunteers across Dorset who help Syrian refugees families to settle in to their new communities, make friends, go shopping, help with children, etc.

‘And to see the Syrian families they once helped now want to give something back and help them in return is amazing.

‘Many of our older volunteers will now be isolating or shielding –so the Syrian families offer of help is very welcomed.

Walid refugee Dorset Syrian
Walid, a Syrian refugee in Dorset, who wants to lend a helping hand.

One of the Syrian refugees, Walid, said: ‘My family and I took refuge in this beautiful country.  That is why I want to offer my services to help the community. I can help to deliver food and other essentials to vulnerable residents in my area.

‘I strongly believe in the responsibility of citizens to help each other in crises.  May God protect this country.’

Dorset has welcomed 82 Syrian refugees as part of the national resettlement scheme in nine different locations across the county.  The most recent family arrived on 3 March. However, all resettlement is now suspended due to the coronavirus.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Education, Children and Early Help at Dorset Council, said: ‘This is a wonderful example of how helping others pays off dividends to our communities later, with people coming together in this time of crisis. I think we all need a bit of this right now.’

Volunteers are needed across the county to help support the most vulnerable people during the crisis. Cllr Parry added:

‘Many people will need extra support, like help with shopping, walking the dog, picking up prescriptions or just checking in with them to have a chat over the phone.

‘We are encouraging people to join the growing band of brilliant volunteers, helping and supporting everyone across Dorset so that people can get through tough times together.’

If you want to help but are not sure where to start, register with the Dorset Volunteering Centre in the first instance.


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