A group of Richmond volunteers are celebrating a successful year, after they managed to help another three Syrian refugee families to find new homes in the area.

Refugees Welcome in Richmond has now successfully housed six refugee families in total, including 12 adults and 15 children, after private property owners agreed to rent out their homes via the council, at the same rate at which social housing is offered.

Volunteer housing officer Simone Webster said: "It has been wonderful to see how our original three families have rallied round to welcome the three new families, offering practical support and friendship as well as comforting home-cooked Syrian food and hospitality.

"When one of the new families couldn’t get their boiler to work over the Easter bank holiday, our first family went straight round and helped them to get it started.

"The latest house offered was in dire need of renovation, and the father of one of the original families, a painter-decorator by trade, insisted on offering his services for free. A team of local volunteers, including a group of sixth-formers from Hampton School, worked tirelessly alongside the landlord to renovate the house and garden."

Richmond Council previously put the search to find homes to a halt and focused on settling the families into the borough however, it has agreed to house more families if it can secure housing from home owners.

Benefits for landlords include the payment of rent and council tax from the date the property is accepted for the scheme, an incentive payment of approximately £2,500-£3,000 upfront, standard assured shorthand tenancy agreements from 2-5 years, and the Council as a guarantor.

Around 20,000 people will be settled in the UK as part of The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which was set up by the Government after the death of toddler Alan Turbi, whose body was found on a Mediterranean beach in 2015.

However, refugees can only be allowed entry into the UK if there is a home available to them which means that most homes will have to come from private landlords because of the capitals increasing housing crisis.

In 2017, more than 5,000 applications for social housing were made to Richmond Council and there were around 258 homeless households which forced the council to admit that it would not meet its housing target.

Anyone who would like to help can contact Refugees Welcome in Richmond at refugeeswelcomeinrichmond@gmail.com or Richmond Council's Resettlement Team at l.brice@richmond.gov.uk or by calling 020 8487 5064.