Community Sponsorship

There are over 22 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 is the second of its kind in the world, modelled on the Canadian resettlement scheme which has resettled over 300,000 refugees since 1979 via this model of private sponsorship by local community groups.

Community Sponsorship has been running in the UK since 2016 and has resettled over 400 families, supported by over 70 sponsorship groups.

An important change to the scheme since 2020 is that each family that comes into the country through community sponsorship will now be additional to the refugees resettled by the government. This means that if your community welcomes a family of refugees, it is a family that won’t get here by any other route. The global reach of the scheme has also expanded since its launch, and on 13th September 2021 the Government have approved the Community Sponsorship scheme for refugees from Afghanistan.

How does Community Sponsorship work?

The scheme enables community groups to be directly involved with supporting the resettlement of a refugee family in the UK.

A group might get together to form a charity, or work with an existing family to work towards gaining Home Office approval for the resettlement of a family. The criteria includes fundraising at least £9,000, obtaining local authority consent, creating a resettlement plan and securing accommodation for a family. This process is supported by RESET who are the organisation set up to support community sponsorship in the UK.

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 and resettlement begins with the sponsorship group meeting the family at the airport.

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.

However 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:-

  • Find further information below on organisations who support the community sponsorship process.
  • Contact us in the Compassionate Communities Team and we can link you with other churches within the diocese who have already welcome refugees under Community Sponsorship. We can also put you in touch with the Church of England’s two national representatives who can advise parishes on becoming community sponsors.

Links to key websites and partners

Church Response For Refugees have a team dedicated to helping current and potential sponsors, with information, training and networking opportunities. For more information on the support they provide: Please Click Here

Launch of Community Sponsorship: Please Click Here

Community Sponsorship Guide: Please Click Here

Sponsor Refugees is a project of Citizens UK who exist to support potential sponsors and can act as Lead Sponsor, provide ambassadors and mentors amongst experienced sponsors who can help new sponsors through the process and provide training opportunities.The Citizens UK Foundation for the Sponsorship of Refugees Link