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 the Second World War, with more than 21m people fleeing their country of origin, and over 34,000 people displaced each day. 1.3m refugees have so far arrived in the EU. In the UK, we currently provide sanctuary to around 16,000 people per year.
The Home Office introduced community sponsorship in the UK in July 2016 as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which has a goal of resettling 23,000 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 points to the the transformational role community resettlement can play – speeding up integration, but also bringing communities together and building a more positive narrative on refugee issues.
- 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
- “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
Over the past several years, Social Finance has 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. In June 2018, we joined forces with these groups to create and launch Reset: Communities and Refugees: a new organisations set up to capacity-build interested community groups and scale sponsorship across the UK. Reset and its network of 11 partners provide resettlement training, personalised support, and awareness-raising activities to potential sponsor groups.
Sponsorship is still in its nascent stages in the UK, but with Reset in place, we hope to be able to drive the uptake of sponsorship all across the UK, and in doing so, support the successful integration of thousands of vulnerable refugees.