REFUGEES devastated by the war in Syria could soon be coming to Corsham thanks to a community sponsorship initiative led by a former district and town councillor.

Chris Reid started up the Corsham Sponsors Refugees group using the Home Office’s community sponsorship initiative after falling in love with the country while holidaying there in 2009.

The initiative is a tall order though, as she and the rest of the group need to raise £9,000 to join the scheme, as well as find a house and volunteers to help settle the family.

“I visited Syria two years before the war broke out,” Mrs Reid said.

“It was the most wonderful holiday and I fell in love with the country’s fascinating history, the culture and its people, and when the war broke out, I was devastated.

“My daughter told me about the community sponsorship scheme and myself and a few trusted others have been working on it for a few months.

“So far, the people I have spoken to have been very positive, but I am sure we will come across some who aren’t so positive.

“Our reply to that is that it is one family who are devoid of a home and have been living in a refugee camp and we have the chance to give them and their children a new hope and a future.”

Although Wiltshire Council has welcomed 92 refugees to the county through the government scheme, this will be the first community-funded family in the area.

Corsham Town Council chairman, Councillor Ruth Hopkinson, has backed the project, which she believes will do well.

“I think there is an appetite for this sort of thing here,” she said.

“Wiltshire For Refugees put on their film at The Pound a few months ago and it was really well received.

“We are talking about helping a family, who through no fault of their own has had their life torn apart.

“They need our help, especially when we see and hear constant updates about the war, such as the gas attack this week.”

Although the Corsham Sponsors Refugees project team is busy preparing for the launch, it is on the look out for volunteers with special skills or a big heart to lend a hand.

“We need people with lots of different skills and experience with things such as safeguarding, the benefits system, the job centre process, Arabic and teaching English as a foreign language,”

Mrs Reid added. “We also want people with lots of good will to help us provide a future for this family.

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