Refugees who have fled the horrors of war in Syria are settling in Dorset – and locals are needed to welcome them.

There are currently 15 families and 35 children who have begun new lives in the county under the Syrian Resettlement Programme.

Many of the families have escaped ‘dire and horrible’ conditions and have been living in refugee camps.

As part of Refugee Week, Dorset Council is calling for volunteers to help them settle in.

A mother of two, who fled Syria, has spoken of her experiences.

She said: “Me, my husband and my two children fled the horror of war in Syria to neighbouring Iraq. We lived in a camp for five years. The situation was dire and horrible, and there were times when we could not feed our children.

“We lived in a camp. There were times we could not feed our children’

“We heard that there was a chance to leave via the United Nations and we registered our names on the list. It seemed like a dream but we did it anyway. It took about a year before we were told we could come to the UK.

“We just want to say to our landlord who is generous and kind that without his contribution, we wouldn’t be here in safety after all the struggles we have seen in our lives.

“We want to say we are very grateful to all the volunteers and the local community in Dorset who have been very supportive. They have become our friends and our family, and they have made us feel at home. No matter what we say, it will not be enough to express our gratitude.”

Whether you can help take a family shopping, play with their children or just be a friendly face, Dorset Council wants to hear from you.

Cllr Pauline Batstone, Chairman of Dorset Race Equality Council and Dorset Council Chairman, said: “It is difficult for us to imagine what families have been through. It must also be daunting having to start afresh.If you think you could help a family get accustomed to life in Dorset please get in touch, a friendly face can help and make a real difference.”

Mona Elkatory, Chairman of the South West Dorset Multicultural Network, said: “This week gives us the opportunity to reflect on the plight of refugees and consider what it means to leave your home, your country and your family behind to escape the horrors of the war.“Let’s use this week to encourage people to consider different ways of supporting and helping refugees. South West Dorset Multicultural Network is proud to be part of the volunteering groups who support refugees in Dorset.”

If you own a property in Dorset that you think could be suitable, contact the resettlement officer by emailing: If you are interested in volunteering to support a newly arrived refugee family contact Andy Jefferies on Visit:

Short films to be screened

As part of Refugee Week, b-side and Dorset Place of Sanctuary will be screening six short films..

The short films are from the Moving Worlds programme made available by Refugee Week and produced by Counterpoint Arts.

The programme seeks to uncover hidden stories of displacement, draw parallels between past and present asylum-seeking trajectories, as well as allow for intergenerational dialogues to emerge.

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is ‘You, me and those who came before.’

The films as a whole examine personal and collective journeys of belonging, stories of finding one’s new home and personal testimonies of resilience.

There will be two screenings tonight (18 June), one will take place at Outpost on Portland from 7pm to 9pm, while the other screening will take place at Chapel in the Garden from 7pm to 9pm.

Drinks will be available to buy, and all proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross.

For more information on tonight’s screenings visit