A NEW support group for refugees has been started in Settle for local people who want to support refugees and displaced people.

In recent months the town has been busy preparing for a Syrian refugee family to settle there. They are expected to arrive soon.

Marian McNichol, the project manager of Settle Area Refugee Support, said: “The response in Settle has been fantastic and many in the resettlement group think we could do a lot more, so this new group has been set up to focus on supporting the refugees and asylum seekers who already live in nearby towns and cities.”

There are plans to organise some days out for adults and children to enjoy time in the open spaces of the Yorkshire Dales. One idea is to arrange a train travel from Keighley or Leeds so that children will have an exciting journey. They can then have a shared meal in Settle and then walk by the river or play. There may be a visit to spend time with horses and ponies in Rathmell, plus a visit to a small petting zoo with guinea pigs, rabbits and other animals.

Another aim is to host weekends so that asylum seekers/refugees can have a break. An open meeting on Tuesday, June 25 starting at 7pm in the Quaker Meeting House in Settle will discuss ways to develop plans to host families and individuals for weekends. The weekends give struggling asylum seekers/refugees time in a different environment with the chance to walk, play and socialise.

Member Angie Pedley said: “This group aims to build on the enthusiasm shown recently by people in the Settle area towards helping with the refugee crisis. There are refugees and asylum seekers close to our area who are already here, some in desperate need. Many need help to practice their English. If supporters wish to donate furniture or clothing, I am very happy to take goods to other centres for them to distribute.”

Angie has already taken three car loads of donations of bedding, duvets and pillows to the Good Shepherd Centre in Keighley, thanks to generous people in the area. Other organisations in West Yorkshire and East Lancashire may benefit in the future.

The group hopes to act as an information point to signpost anyone looking to support refugees and asylum seekers in practical ways. A talk is arranged for July 18 to hear about the various ways people can offer help.

Anyone interested in donating goods or helping in other ways can contact Angie on: angie.pedley@gmail.com

Anyone able to help with hosting weekends and day trips contact Marian McNichol on 01729 822313 or email actionsettlerefugees@gmail.com