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Ashford will welcome three refugee families from Syria in the next few days, in time for Christmas

By Vicky Castle

Homes, schools, healthcare and interpreters have been arranged as the first three Syrian refugee families are set to arrive in Ashford later this month.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has been making arrangements since September to bring desperate families from the war-torn country to safety in the borough.

Council chiefs have been in talks with the Home Office, arranged school places and organised access to healthcare for the first arrivals.

They hope that the refugee children will be able to use the mobile phones in an emergency. Picture: SWNS.COM

The families are due to land in the next couple of weeks and will be housed in private accommodation in Newtown, Charing and Tenterden.

Interpreters and designated officers have been appointed to help them settle into their new homes and integrate into communities.

In October, we exclusively revealed plans by council chiefs to house up to 250 vulnerable refugees from Syria over the next five years.

ABC leader, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, said he felt "personally morally responsible" to help those families forced to flee their homeland.

He announced the council had come to a unanimous decision to look after families from designated refugee camps close to the Syrian border.

Syria's refugee crisis is growing. Picture: SWNS.COM

Cllr Clarkson said this week: "We are pleased to learn from the Home Office we will be receiving three families before Christmas.

"We will provide them with the basics and all the support needed to feel safe and settle into their new homes. We want to normalise their situation in the short-term.

"I attended a meeting in October when volunteers from the local community came to see how they could get involved. It really is an example of Ashford at its best.

"We hope that in the coming weeks and months these families can be adopted by their new communities.

"As we said from the outset, we want the families to be pleased to be here, and we are certainly proud to welcome them."

Philip Luscombe said the church is 'delighted' to offer a home.

He said the council had been overwhelmed with offers of voluntary support from groups around the borough.

One of the properties for the Syrian refugees is being provided by the Methodist Church.

The Rev Dr Philip Luscombe, minister for the Ashford area, said the church was "delighted" to offer a home.

He said: "Jesus tells us to care for the poor and oppressed and this small gesture is part of our Christian duty. The council has worked in partnership with all the churches and we have been delighted to play a part in this project.

"We all look forward to helping the refugee families settle into our area, and begin to recover from the sufferings of war."

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