The Home Office has approved an application by a Western Isles voluntary group to receive a refugee family in Stornoway.
Island Welcome, also known as Communities for Refugees Western Isles, hopes to welcome an Arabic-speaking family within a matter of months, and is calling for befrienders and people with experience of the language to come forward.
The group applied for permission to welcome a refugee family under the UK Government’s community sponsorship scheme.
Volunteers do not know yet what country the family comes from, only that they speak Arabic.
The scheme works by allowing a community, together with a local authority, to facilitate resettlement of a single refugee family, supported by a sponsor organisation, in this case London-based Sponsor Refugees.
Imminent arrival of refugee family
Committee coordinator, Mhairi Murdoch, said: “We are working with Volunteer Centre Western Isles (VCWI) to find the people with specific skills we need, now that a family is imminently to arrive in Stornoway.
“The areas where we are particularly looking for additional support are for volunteers able to speak Arabic and willing to help as translators or interpreters, including helping us translate our code of conduct and policies into Arabic.
“We also need volunteers with an interest in joining our safeguarding team and perhaps taking on a lead role on safeguarding in the future, and we need volunteer befrienders, especially people with experience of teaching English to speakers of other languages.”
She added: “We really urge people with skills and time to think about volunteering with us.
Practical jobs to help refugees
“You’ll be helping to make sure another family leaving a traumatic and dangerous situation can build a new, secure life in our island community.”
Organisers say there are also practical jobs to come for anyone who would like to get involved. For example, the home will need to be prepared for the new family and kitted out with everything they might need.
Additional donations will help with specific island costs, such as meeting the family at Glasgow airport and escorting them to Stornoway.
The group can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact VCWI on 01851 700366.