Case study | NYC Syrian Refugee Resettlement

In 2015, the UK Government launched the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), an initiative created to provide fully-funded, long-term integration support to help resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK. The programme aims to help the most vulnerable displaced families, many of whom have lived in refugee camps neighbouring Syria for up to five years before being resettled in the UK. Following the project’s announcement, North Yorkshire’s County and District Councils agreed to work together in partnership to deliver this important scheme.

Key requirements of the initiative include the provision of adequately equipped properties to house resettled families. As an ongoing partner of Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) for the fulfilment of their Local Assistance Fund, North Yorkshire Council (NYC) came to FFBS for support with the provision of furniture and household items.

Since the first fit-outs in 2016, FFBS has continued to work alongside NYC to furnish accommodation quickly and efficiently. The partnership establishes safe and comfortable living spaces where resettled families can feel at home and ultimately thrive.

Their challenges

The central government funding for the resettlement scheme requires that each individual is supported throughout their first five years in the UK, to help them to adjust to their new life here and become independent within their local communities.

Provision of adequately equipped accommodation is a crucial part of this support, so NYC needed to prepare properties for the 238 refugees they received between 2016 and 2018, as well as the families welcomed since then.

With a range of items needed to fit out each property – from cutlery and crockery sets to beds and washing machines – this would have posed a significant administrative challenge for NYC, involving researching, sourcing and ordering numerous different items from a range of suppliers.

Our solution

Through our one-stop-shop fulfilment service, NYC can order all necessary furnishings and household items in one place, through our online portal. This enables the council to furnish homes with ease, with just one supplier contract and consolidated monthly invoicing with FFBS. The portal allows the NYC team to make and manage their orders in one place, as well as track orders, spending and budgets with our integrated management information and reporting suite.

The FFBS team manage everything from supplier selection and price negotiations to delivery and warranties, helping NYC to save on administration costs. The council also benefits from a competitive management fee – including a dedicated Helpdesk – and, thanks to our collective buying power, we supply high-quality goods at discounted prices. All of this maximises the impact of NYC’s funding.

The dates that refugees are due to arrive in the UK and move into their new homes change regularly and this has been the case especially during 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, our unique business model and relationships with suppliers ensure that products are always available for direct delivery with a quick turnaround time, no matter how many times the dates move.

Jonathan Spencer, Project Manager for North Yorkshire Refugee Resettlement said: “We have been working with FFBS and their furniture delivery company TFS for some time now and have been pleased with the service provided. The deliveries have been made on time and in full and the work is undertaken with pride.”

“FFBS has provided us with great peace of mind whilst managing the fit out of our properties in North Yorkshire. They ensured that all of our requirements were met in a timely manner and provided excellent customer service throughout. Their partnership with this scheme has been invaluable.”

The results

FFBS has so far helped NYC to quickly and efficiently furnish over 50 properties for displaced families, including five which were fitted out in January 2021 and are now home to 22 individuals. Each property is fitted out in a single delivery which includes both essential furniture and white goods items such as a washing machine and cooker. This ensures that the project not only keeps in accordance with Home Office requirements, but provides families with a safe and comfortable home where they can settle into a new life in the UK.

Jonathan said: “It’s hard to describe the difference being resettled in North Yorkshire is making to these families. At last, they have somewhere safe to sleep, their children can go to school and they can rebuild their shattered lives.  Having a home that is furnished with the essentials provides a starting point for them to feel settled in their new area and to ultimately work towards leading independent lives again and being able to contribute back to the country that has provided them with sanctuary.”

We continue to support NYC as they prepare further homes for resettled refugees. In February 2021 we received this feedback from Jonathan:

“This family in particular are delighted with their property and the two adults burst into tears when they saw it for the first time last night. The furnishings helped to make it seem more like home.”

Jill Wheeler, Managing Director of FFBS, said: “I am delighted that FFBS has been able to contribute towards the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. To be involved in the resettlement of these families, many of whom have lived in refugee camps for years after being driven from their own homes, is very rewarding and we wish them well in their new homes here in Yorkshire.”

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