THE contribution of refugees to Cumbria was praised as the county council agreed to continue helping people in need to resettle in the area.

Cumbria County Council’s cabinet voted to act as the lead authority on finding homes across the county for refugees through the Government’s global resettlement scheme.

The scheme will help at least another 96 people find homes in the area as part of the Government’s aim to resettle up to 5,000 people in the UK in the current financial year.

Peter Thornton, the council’s deputy leader, said it was important to emphasise what the refugees would bring to the county rather than what they would be given and welcomed the proposal.

He said: “If you look at the life of this country, from politicians to business leaders and people at the very top of their professions, it is amazing how many of them actually trace their life back to families which were once refugees in this country.

“I think the contribution of refugees is huge.

“Some of us have met the Windermere Boys – those who came over as refugees after the Second World War – and we talked to them about what they have achieved.

“I think we should just remember that this is not pure altruism.

“Cumbria needs workers and skilled people and these people who we welcome very often give us far more than we give them.”

The new scheme replaces three separate, successful projects which the county has taken part in since it agreed in 2016 to find homes for 285 Syrian refugees.

Working with district councils and other voluntary and statutory organisations, 244 people have been placed so far.

Councillor Deborah Earl, the cabinet member for public health and communities, said the county had a “long and proud tradition” of supporting refugees, including those from Second World War camps, Vietnamese boat people in the seventies, Kosovans in the late-1990s and, more recently, Syrian families.

She said: “At the end of last year I had the opportunity, along with the leader of the council, to meet some of those Syrian families in Carlisle.

“It was an absolute pleasure, spending time listening to their stories and sharing the delicious food that they kindly cooked for us.”

Stewart Young, the council’s leader, said the work had been “very much a partnership” and added that people already homed were supported through the pandemic.

The scheme is dependent on more Government funding to run beyond the current financial year.