A LACK of cultural ties in Craven has seen none of the 175 refugees who arrived in North Yorkshire via a government scheme settle in the district.

The United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) was set up to provide refugees from war-torn countries a “safe and legal” route into the UK.

It largely welcomes refugees from Syria but has also included people from Iraq, Sudan and South Sudan.

It does not include people from Ukraine, Hong Kong or Afghans who worked for the British Army.

Other than Craven, every other district in North Yorkshire such as Hambleton, Selby and Scarborough has received between 17 and 57 refugees since 2021.

North Yorkshire Council’s assistant chief executive for local engagement, Rachel Joyce, said the authority’s focus is on providing “the most appropriate accommodation" for people once they arrive rather than spreading them evenly across the county.

Angie Pedley of Craven District of Sanctuary, which supports refugees in the area, but not speaking for the group,  told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council prefers to place refugees near to where people speak the same language as them such as in Harrogate.

She said some Syrian families that initially came to Skipton have now moved on.

Ms Pedley said: “The council prefers to settle people into hubs. They feel, and I can see the point, that people are happier if there are others around who speak the same language.

“In Harrogate, they are building their own mosque and they have events together and are in touch with one another.”

Ms Pedley also pointed to high accommodation costs in Skipton and Settle and a shortage of social housing.

There have been, however, Afghan families who have successfully moved to Craven including the Omari family who recently launched their Afghan Star Cuisine catering business which has seen very popular pop-up restaurant evenings in Embsay.

Several Ukrainian families have also come to Craven since the war with Russia began but Ms Pedley said many have moved over the border where house rentals are more affordable.

She added: “There have been a fair number of Ukrainians welcomed to Craven including to Settle and remote villages. Once they found their feet most who wanted to rent independently went across to East Lancashire where rents are cheaper, like in Colne, Burnley and Barnoldswick.”

Craven will be marking national Refugee Week (June 17 to June 23) with a number of events.

Read more about the work Craven District of Sanctuary is doing to support refugees at: https://craven.cityofsanctuary.org/