FAMILIES in Southampton are being urged to do their bit in tackling the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Europe's borders by sheltering scores of vulnerable Syrian refugees in their homes.

Southampton City Council leaders have pledged to accommodate 25 families desperately fleeing from the war-torn country as part of David Cameron's emergency response to the crisis.

Government chiefs and aid agencies are drawing up final plans to select families in the most need - who are expected to arrive before Christmas.

Now city leaders are appealing for residents and landlords with space in their homes to step forward and help shelter the newcomers.

But they stressed they are fighting to ensure Whitehall provides sufficient funds to support the refugees rather than relying on council coffers.

The authority is the second in Hampshire to actively respond to Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement that Britain would resettle up to 20,000 refugees over the next four-and-a-half years.

As previously reported Winchester City Council has launched a new scheme to encourage home-owners with spare rooms to take in lodgers or tenants with council support and is working with its housing teams to keep some properties that are scheduled for sale.

It comes as the crisis at Europe's borders worsens with thousands trying to force their way into the EU through Croatia after Hungry erected huge razor wire fences to keep people out.

Southampton City Council leader Councillor Simon Letts, pictured below, told the authority's full council meeting: "We as a city and a community will play our part in the process. We will be working with faith groups for the appropriate response and will take in 25 Syrian families in the next 12 months."

Daily Echo: Cllr Simon Letts

But he warned the city will not take in orphans or single young people unless the Government provides extra funding to cover their care costs which can rise to £30,000 per child.

The council is preparing a list of landlords and residents who have spare rooms to accommodate the newcomers.

Cabinet member for housing Warwick Payne said: "We are taking up a list of residents that might have one or two spare bedrooms in their house and take in refugee families."

Afterwards Cllr Letts said: "This city has a proud history of reaching out to people in trouble. We helped 4,000 children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in 1937. If we can house 40,000 students a year in the city we should not have a problem with 25 Syrian families."