How to get involved, and where to find advice and support
Community Sponsorship is part of the UK Government-UNHCR refugee resettlement programme and allows local volunteer groups - including charities, faith groups, neighbours and businesses - to sponsor refugee families, supporting them after their arrival and helping them settle faster into their new lives.
To date, around 450 refugees have been welcomed to the UK through the Home Office programme. UNHCR UK recently met five community sponsorship groups from across the UK. We heard that the families that they welcomed had become friends and neighbours, and that the experience had brought together locals, strengthening community ties and creating lasting bonds.
Before welcoming a family, groups need to:
Obtain charity status - this can be done independently or in partnership with existing charities or social enterprises. Groups need consent of local authority, who also can signpost local services.
Find a house – before the family arrive a house is secured for them to rent
Raise money – each group must raise £9000
Plan their support – to help the families settle into their new lives in the UK, the groups help arrange translation, language training support, school registration, access to local heathcare providers and help them to navigate daily tasks including banking and benefits. This support can last a year or longer, depending on the groups. Housing support for two years is needed.
From registering interest to meeting a family at the airport: how community sponsorship happens Reset was set up in 2018 to coordinate the growth of the Community Sponsorship and help realise its full potential.
They offer guidance, training and coordinates meetings of groups from around the country to help them share experience and support each other.
Community Sponsorship in 2020
In March 2020, the UK suspended its refugee resettlement programmes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the need for resettlement didn’t go away. The longer that resettlement remains on hold, the greater the need grows.
Reset are asking people to sign up to sponsor refugees, ready for when resettlement restarts.
If more groups decide to sponsor refugees, more refugees will be able to find safety in the UK.
If you are interested you can register at www.communitysponsorship.org.uk.
Reset will then provide more details on how you can get involved.
Other organisations who are there to help
Across the country there are a number of organisations who help groups to work together and prepare for a family’s arrival.
Caritas offer support to faith groups sponsoring refugees. Since first helping to welcome a family to Salford, they have gone on to help many more successfully become community sponsors. Learn more.
Sponsor Refugees launched in 2017 as an initiative of Citizens UK. They promote community sponsorship and have supported many groups preparing for a family’s arrival. Visit their website.
UK Welcomes Refugees was recently set up to strengthen Community Sponsorship. You can find out about the services they offer on their website.
The Refugee Council is supporting community sponsorship. They are available with ontacts and information to help interested people understand more.
Community Sponsorship across the UK Community sponsorship groups are active locally.
To fundraise they hold local events, and to support each other they hold online events to share their experiences.
Refugee Family Gives Back by Cooking Meals for Cardigan Care Workers helping fight COVID-19
First meeting of volunteer group drew over 100 locals; They plan to sponsor another family, once conditions allow