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Syria and Scotland are separated by more than the 3,000-odd miles that lie between them - but 15 Syrian families have arrived to set up home on the island of Bute.

So how has the local community reacted, and what problems will those who have made the  journey from the refugee camps be faced with when they arrive? Will Scotland’s much talked up welcoming stance towards refugees be borne out in reality?

Many on the island, accessible only by ferry, have welcomed the news and have set about doing all they can to make the new additions feel welcomed to the 6,500-strong population. 28 adults and 31 children have arrived with one extra addition imminent as a family is expecting a new baby. Twelve of the families will be resettled before Christmas, with a further three families arriving early in the New Year.

The families have come from camps in Lebanon and have arrived on Bute as part of a UK-wide resettlement programme for the most vulnerable refugees. Projects have been set up to help the new neighbours settle into all different aspects of life and locals have lined up a range of services, encompassing everything from help with food shopping to a language service.

But while many islanders are busily preparing to welcome their new neighbours, some are anxious. They voiced worries about resources, which are already tight, being stretched further. Mark Lingard has voiced his opposition to the plans, branding it a "social experiment". He is concerned that residents had not been consulted, and that it might have a detrimental impact on the island's economy.

Mr Lingard has told journalists that he was also unhappy that whenever he voiced an opinion he was accused of being racist.

"We have a real chance on Bute to build an inclusive society, but we need to stop making concessions all the time to people that come to stay with us from other countries. Live among us, live as one of us and people won't have an issue with it. "As soon as we start to bend the knee we are making a rod for our own backs. I've seen this throughout the UK. I've got family that live in Keighley, north of Bradford, and they're in a minority. "I've already been branded a bigot in the local press for speaking like I'm speaking now, and as far as I'm aware I've not said anything that's bigoted or racist. A lot of people you'll find here are really nervous about speaking up about this issue because they're scared of being branded a bigot or a racist."

One local woman, who gave her name only as Margaret, said she wished the refugees "all the best" - but added that she felt charity should begin at home. "I saw the church was doing an appeal for bikes to give to the Syrian kids at Christmas, but there are parents here already who have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their kids, let alone buy their own children bikes," she said.

The editor of the local paper, Criag Boreland  responded to those who were unhappy with the decision to re-settle refugees on Bute  he said "There have, predictably but depressingly, been grumbles about how we should look after our own first, how we should be spending our  taxes and so on. But mostly these are just not-very-thinly-veiled ways of people saying 'I don't want them in my back yard'. "Well, I do. I want Bute to be a place where people who come here with little more than the clothes they are standing in can feel safe and at home. "I want Bute to be a place known not for narrow-minded bigotry, but for its warmth, and humanity, and willingness to help people with nothing in whatever way it can."

Councillor Isobel Strong, of Argyll and Bute Council, acknowledged that not everyone was happy to accommodate the refugees. She said: "I know not everyone is as welcoming as I am, but I know there are people here they will be able to rely on. "It's cold and wet here, but we'll see to it that they get a warm welcome."

The local council are keen to stress the community support which has been gathering to help the refugees. Cleland Sneddon, executive director of community services for Argyll and Bute Council, said the families were "for us no longer Syrian refugee families, but our families". “Over the last eight weeks there has been immense community support," he said. “We have had contacts from just about every corner of the globe to offer support or simply say we think what is being done here is really substantial and we wish you the best.

Mike Russell, the SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, said the refugees would contribute to the community.

He said: “Scots have a long history of going elsewhere to contribute to other countries. The people who are coming here are going to contribute to this community, they are going to make their lives here, they are going to find a better place to live free of persecution and danger, they are going to invest their futures in this community and they will make a huge contribution to it. “Rothesay is not full up, Argyll and Bute is not full up, Scotland is not full up. We have space and room for those who want to and will contribute to the life of this community and this country.”

Argyll and Bute councillor and Provost Len Scoullar, who made headlines after reports he said - referring to the refugees - that he “hoped there was not a terrorist among this lot”. He later denied having made the remarks. He said: “People in Argyll and Bute are known for their warmth and friendliness, which has been proved by the huge offers of support already shown by communities across the area for those seeking refuge from Syria.

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