COVENTRY City Council’s lead Refugee Resettlement officer has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
More than 700 refugees have been resettled in the city since 2014 when Coventry became one of the first UK authorities to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.
And in 2016, the city also joined the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, focusing on the resettlement of vulnerable children and their immediate families from the Middle East and North Africa.
Peter Barnett, who has been at the forefront of this work, is honoured for ‘Services to Refugees in Coventry’, helping to ensure refugees and asylum seekers have the services they need as they struggle to build new lives.
He said: “It is a great honour to receive the award, and it really did come as a shock.
“Coventry has a long-standing reputation as a welcoming city, and as a city of sanctuary, and it has been a real pleasure to be involved in that work in recent years and see the effect it has, not just on those we welcome, but on the city and those who live here.
“The whole team at the Council, along with partners across the city, makes such a difference to so many lives. The people who come here have faced great hardship and often personal loss, and we do our best to help them pick up the pieces and build a new life in a new country.
“I couldn’t think of a better job, and to receive this award is not just a personal honour, but also an honour for the city and all who work so hard to help refugees and asylum seekers.”
The news coincides with today’s (October 13), announcement that MiFriendly Cities is a finalist in the human rights category of the European Innovation in Politics Awards 2020.
Peter has also been instrumental in the Building Bridges and MiFriendly Cities projects, both of which celebrate the contribution refugees can make to their new home city, allowing them to develop skills, and build links.
This three-year initiative between Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, which looks at developing the West Midlands as a Migrant Friendly region, was selected as an outstanding example of political innovation in Europe.
The decision was made by 1,058 jurors from 47 countries. Out of the 398 entries, MiFriendly Cities ranks among the top 10 in its field and 90 best in Europe.
The project looks to develop innovative, community-led and sustainable approaches to enhancing the contribution of refugees and migrants across the West Midlands. The winners will be announced in November.
Coun George Duggins, Leader of the City Council, said: “Peter’s honour is well-deserved.
“He has played a major role in helping hundreds of people build new lives in our city, and in helping those here see how refugees and asylum seekers can bring their skills and culture to enrich our city.
“Coventry is very proud of its reputation as a friendly, welcoming city of peace and friendship, and that would not be possible without people like Peter.”
Housing and Communities cabinet minister coun David Welsh said: “This is a great tribute to the hard work and accomplishments of everybody who is a part of the project. I am delighted by the progress that Coventry has made towards becoming a Migrant Friendly city over the last few years.
“This comes at a time when Coventry City Council’s Head of Service Libraries and Migration, Peter Barnett, has received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to refugees in Coventry.
“We are extremely happy that the city’s work towards community integration is being recognised”.
Peter has worked at the Council since 2003, leading Coventry’s Library and Information Service since 2014. He previously worked for Middlesbrough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.
To find out more about MiFriendly Cities and Building Bridges, visit: coventry.gov.uk
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