There are over 27 million refugees in the world. This number can feel overwhelming, but Community Sponsorship is a tangible way that your church and people in your community can become directly involved in the resettlement of a newly arrived refugee family in your local area.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby became the UK’s first community sponsors when he welcomed a refugee family into Lambeth Palace in 2016…
…and the parish of St Monica’s, Flixton, in Greater Manchester, became the second.
What is Community Sponsorship?
The scheme enables community groups to be directly involved with supporting the resettlement of a refugee family in the UK.
This model of private sponsorship by local community groups is the second of its kind in the world, modelled on the Canadian resettlement scheme, and has been running in the UK since 2016.
There are over 320 Community Sponsorship groups in the UK, and so far almost 1000 refugees have been welcomed through Community Sponsorship.
Each family that comes into the country through Community Sponsorship is in addition to any refugees resettled by the government. This means that if your community welcomes a family of refugees through Community Sponsorship, then you will be welcoming a family that otherwise may not get to be resettled to the UK.
What does Community Sponsorship involve?
As a Community Sponsorship group, you will support a resettled family from the moment of arrival in the UK, providing formal support for up to 1 year, and housing for 2 years.
The whole process is supported by the organisation RESET who work with prospective groups towards gaining Home Office approval for the resettlement of a family. The criteria for Home Office approval includes:-
- fundraising at least £9,000
- obtaining local authority consent
- creating a resettlement plan and securing accommodation for a family.
Once approval has been obtained from the Home Office, the Home Office work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to identify a family for resettlement. Once this has taken place then resettlement begins with the sponsorship group meeting the family at the airport.
You can watch our Introduction to Community Sponsorship, recorded in July 2023 here (viewing time 43 mins):
What are the benefits of Community Sponsorship?
The benefits for the refugees are above all the social connections made, as well as practical assistance with navigating a new life in the UK such as help with registering for a GP, applying for school places, or accessing English language lessons.
There are also so many benefits for those in the Community Sponsorship group. Jeremy Fletcher, vicar at Hampstead Parish Church and Lead Sponsor for a Syrian family who arrived in 2018 talks about sponsorship as a “deeply humbling experience” and you can find here the full interview.
More information can be found in the University of Birmingham’s 4 year evaluation of Community Sponsorship.
How can my church find out more about Community Sponsorship?
If you are interested in joining or starting a Community Sponsorship group in your local area you can:-
- Contact us in the Compassionate Communities Team and we can talk to you about next steps. If desired, can link you with other church communities who have already welcomed refugees under Community Sponsorship, or where there are existing local groups.
- Find further information from RESET on the Community Sponsorship process.
- Read the guidance for potential sponsors produced by the Home Office