Crowds turn out for refugee summit

The event was arranged by Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, and brought together community groups, Ealing residents, local politicians, faith leaders, representatives from the Refugee Council, London Citizens, Job Centre Plus and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Ealing was one of the first local authorities in the country to pledge to do its fair share to help, after the government announced the UK would provide asylum to up to 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.

The packed meeting heard about the process for matching refugees with host boroughs, the challenge of finding suitable homes in London as well as heart-breaking personal accounts of how families had been separated because of the war. Maurice Wren, chief executive of the Refugee Council, told people about the work of his organisation including its experience of resettling refugees in Sheffield, Leeds and Hull.

There were also contributions and questions from the audience and suggestions of how people could be welcomed to Ealing and integrated into the community. Practical suggestions included help into employment, language classes and being able to access health services.

A meeting between London boroughs, the GLA and government departments will be held next week to discuss the capital’s response and the timetable for resettlement.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, said: “It is testament to the people of Ealing that there was standing room only at the summit. One of Ealing’s strengths is its diversity – we truly are a global borough. I have no doubts that any refugees coming here will be welcomed warmly into our community. 

“I would like to thank all those who attended, it was really useful to get everyone in the room together so we could share information, and contact details. I look forward to working together effectively to help those affected by this humanitarian crisis.”