Community Sponsorship enables your church and local community to directly support a newly resettled refugee family from the moment they arrive in the UK.
This ground-breaking new development for refugee resettlement was announced by the UK Government in Summer 2016. It is modelled on the hugely successful Canadian Private Sponsorship scheme which has resettled nearly 280,000 refugees since its introduction in 1979.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby became the UK’s first community sponsors when he welcomed a refugee family into Lambeth Palace in 2016.
“Community Sponsorship Scheme presents churches and other civil society groups with the opportunity to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places.Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish.It is an enormous privilege to welcome a family to live in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace.” – The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Catholic Diocese of Salford became the UK’s second community sponsor when they resettled a Syrian family in November 2016. This was followed by the Salvation Army resettling a third family in South London in March 2017. One of the local groups that we are working with, Worthing 4 Refugees, recently announced that their application has been approved and is expecting their family in coming weeks.
The best gift that any individual or church can give to a refugee family arriving in the UK is a place to call home and a community to belong to. As with any kind of service, sponsoring a refugee family requires the church community to be committed in prayer and in practice. A community sponsor’s responsibilities include:
- Meeting the family at the airport
- Providing a warm welcome and cultural orientation
- Providing housing
- Supporting access to medical and social services
- Arranging English language tuition
- Support towards employment and self-sufficiency
Community sponsors are formally responsible for the integration and progress of resettled family for one year, and their housing for two. Each resettled family will be different but they will all have suffered the loss of their home. Many will have lost loved ones, friends and family, and witnessed the horrors of war. Some may have specific medical needs or disabilities.
This is where faith-based organisations are called to be good samaritans: supporting a resettled family by making them feel welcome in the UK, helping them to adjust and make a new life for themselves, and to stand on their own two feet. The support of a community sponsor will have a crucial impact on the family’s future happiness and wellbeing.GUIDE FOR PROSPECTIVE SPONSORS
Church Response For Refugees aims to inspire, encourage and equip 100 churches and faith-based organisations to become community sponsors.
Being a community sponsor is a significant undertaking. We are helping current and prospective community sponsors by:
- Informing and assisting sponsors to complete their community sponsorship application.
- Training and resourcing sponsors to be fully equipped to welcome refugees both culturally and practically.
- Helping sponsors to engage with their local community through hosting events, exhibitions, and training days with specialist agencies and charities.
- Connect sponsors in the movement to encourage mutual communication, sharing of sponsorship experiences, and logistical support.