Community sponsorship provides the opportunity for communities to play an active role in helping refugees build a home and a stable life in the UK.
The world is experiencing its most serious refugee crisis since WWII, with more than 21m people fleeing their country of origin, with over 34,000 people being displaced each day, There are 1.3m refugees who have arrived in the EU. In the UK, we currently provide sanctuary to around 16,000 people a year.
The Home Office introduced a community sponsorship scheme in the UK in July 2016 as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which has a goal of resettling 20,000 people by 2020. Sponsorship enables community groups to support vulnerable people fleeing conflict by providing resettlement support and helping to enable their effective integration (providing access to housing, language training, employment advice, etc.).
Canada has pioneered sponsorship, with over 300,000 refugees supported in this way over the past 40 years. The evidence shows the transformational role community resettlement can play – speeding up integration, but also bringing communities together and building a more positive narrative on refugee issues. It is still in its nascent stage in the UK, but enthusiasm from community groups has been very encouraging.
Why are we doing this?
- “Our hope is that the successful Canadian private sponsorship model will inspire others to develop programs appropriate to their context.” - Johannes Van Der Klaauw, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative to Canada
- Sponsors can mobilise community level resources to achieve more effective integration – for example accelerating language learning and using their informal networks to help secure employment quicker
- Sponsorship brings people together, integrating communities. Their shared experiences can build a more welcoming culture and change the narrative on refugee issues
What are we doing?
Over the past year we have engaged with a wide range of civil society organisations, refugee agencies and government to understand the potential of sponsorship and the best way to encourage and support its growth. Working together with the Good Faith Partnership, we are putting in place plans to build the capacity of those wanting to get involved, to ensure we seize the opportunity that sponsorship offers the UK.