Glasgow & West Scotland

Four Syrian babies born to refugee families on Isle of Bute

Rothesay harbour
Image caption Nineteen Syrian families are living on the Scottish island

Four babies have been born to Syrian refugee families who have resettled on the Scottish island of Bute.

A total of 24 families have been rehomed on the island since December 2015.

Argyll and Bute Council was one of the first Scottish local authorities to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

A report to councillors said there were now 70 Syrians living on Bute, with more births due soon.

The island of Bute has a total population of about 6,500.

Five of the Syrian families re-homed there have since moved to England to be nearer other relatives, leaving 19 families resident on Bute.

One new family is also due to arrive later this month.

Image caption The report said the local community on the island had been "welcoming and supportive"

An update report for councillors, prepared by the council's business improvement manager, Morag Brown, said: "At October 31, 2017, there are 19 refugee families resettled on Bute under the VPR (Vulnerable Persons Relocation) scheme.

"This equates to 70 individuals in total; 18 men, 19, women, 20 boys and 17 girls and four babies born since arriving in the UK. There are more babies due to be born in the next few months."

All the children over three years old attend Rothesay Joint Campus school and there are now 28 Syrian pupils at the school with six in the pre-5 unit, 13 in the primary and nine in secondary.

Nine Syrian children have attended the Rothesay Playgroup.

The report praised the way the youngsters had been welcomed.

'Their home'

"The involvement of the school has very much been at the heart of the response and the support to the families, reflecting the school's role in the community and acknowledging that the decisions our families made to come to the UK were to afford their children a safer and better life," it said.

The benefit of volunteering to increase the chances of the refugees finding employment was highlighted in the report.

It said: "This year we have had significant uptake in volunteering opportunities by our women, with five now volunteering in the community on a weekly basis.

"The women are volunteering in care and childcare settings where they are developing skills which will lead to employment in the future.

"The women do not appear to have the same barriers with language to volunteering as some of the men do. However, that said, many of the men once again volunteered at this summer's Butefest and several have volunteered at a local charity."

The report said the community on Bute continued to be "welcoming and supportive" to the refugee families.

It added: "Many friendships have now developed with the local indigenous community and the new Syrian families, especially with the children.

"Those interviewed said the island was their home now and they are very grateful for all the support the local community gives them."

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