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Doing what we can to help refugees

There’s hardly a topic in the news that isn’t discussed by Chambers of Commerce, and that’s certainly true in our case.

For example, we were recently approached to help play a part in helping Ukrainian refugees who are living in the Chew Valley. They have come from a war torn country, being uprooted from the environment they know and now face the challenges of building a life here, for who knows how long ?

The part our members may be able to help with is employment, but that is not straightforward. Apart from potential language barriers there is the issue of finding out where employment opportunities might exist and that links into the problem of getting there, because transport provision in a rural area is something we have long said should be improved. We will do what we can to flag up where the jobs might be and hopefully they might be able to help businesses with skills shortages.

The refugees are discovering what we have learned to live with, namely that if you live in a village in the Chew Valley you really need a car to get around. Public Transport links are poor and jobs within walking distance of where they live are few and far between so getting to those jobs whether locally or in the cities will be difficult. We will continue to make the case for better public transport but it would almost certainly need subsidising as the number of passengers would not be as large as in a big city.

Many employers are reporting shortages of staff and are doing all they can to provide flexible work patterns to suit people, whether refugees or not, who have other demands on their time, for instance child care. But not every type of business can offer much in the way of flexibility or transport for staff so that limits their options.

Another problem for the refugees and for other people too, is what looks like quite complex red tape and a need for lots of documentation. It’s to be hoped that whilst sensible security is maintained, that a degree of common sense is employed to make the system as user friendly as possible for both those who are applying for and those who are offering the jobs.


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