Discover: Community Sponsorship

Sakkar and Noura Daour are Syrian refugees being supported by a community group in Bury, Greater Manchester. Felicity Brangan (left), an English teacher and former actor, inspired the community with the idea of offering a refugee family a home. © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

In 2016, the Community Sponsorship scheme was formally launched in the UK. The scheme allows charities, faith groups, churches and other groups to support the integration of refugees coming to the UK. Community Sponsorship targets refugees that are identified by UNHCR as being in need of resettlement; so far 449 refugees have been able to come to the country under the scheme.

As the UK marks Refugee Week, we want to celebrate the work that local groups have done to welcome refugees to the country over the past four years, as well as share information on how to get involved.

With forced displacement levels rising, more refugees than ever are in need of resettlement, which is why RESET, Charis and Sponsor Refugees are calling for new groups to ‘Welcome a Stranger’ through Community Sponsorship. More information on the scheme and details on how to set up your own Community Sponsorship group can be found here.

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is ‘imagine’, and Reset is hoping to spark the imagination of children to welcome a stranger with an online activity. The activity is designed for children of group volunteers and the sponsored refugee children they support, with the aim being that the creative ways that children find to express the act of welcoming will inspire people to take up the cause of Community Sponsorship themselves.

Existing groups are also being encouraged to use the momentum of Refugee Week to recruit potential new sponsors, and luckily RESET, Charis and Sponsor Refugees have provided a number of helpful resources and ideas of how to do so.

In light of the current circumstances, most things have moved online, and even if you haven’t quite mastered the world of online calls just yet, Charis have put together a useful guide on how to run a local Community Sponsorship Cluster Event online. The idea behind the event is to bring together those who are enthusiastic about Community Sponsorship with potential sponsors. Alternatively, Sponsor Refugees and the wider Citizens UK organisation are encouraging Community Sponsors to have 1-2-1 conversations with a handful of personal contacts who might be interested in joining the movement for those who don’t have time to organise a big event.

Whichever way you choose to get involved, whether you’re hoping to start your own Community Sponsorship group or looking to inspire others to begin their journey, there are a number of resources available online to help.