Marking the one year anniversary of the operation of the UK’s community sponsorship scheme, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced £1 million of funding over two years to support community groups who want to help resettle refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
This time last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed a Syrian refugee family to live at Lambeth Palace. Since then, despite much interest, there has been slow progress with just 53 refugees able to welcomed by 10 community groups (churches, faith groups and charities) across the UK.
The community sponsors provide housing for refugee families and help with their integration into UK life, as well as aiding their access to medical and social services, arranging English language tuition and supporting them for self sufficient living and employment.
The new government funding will be available over two years to train and support groups signing up to the community sponsorship scheme. The scheme opened on 1 November and applications close on 15 December.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd expressed her delight that “the community sponsorship scheme has got off to such an excellent start”, praising the inspirational volunteers and the compassionate local authorities. She added:
“But this is just the beginning.
“I hope many more groups in the UK will be inspired to get involved. That is why I have announced this funding, to help more communities welcome vulnerable families looking to create a new life and bring real benefits to the places in which they will live and work.”
At an event to mark the one year anniversary, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“Last year we welcomed a family of Syrian refugees to live with us here at Lambeth Palace through the community sponsorship scheme. It has been an absolute privilege and joy to get to know this special family over the last year as we’ve supported them to start a new life in the UK. They have been a blessing to us in so many ways … In whatever way you can, I would encourage everyone to get involved with community sponsorship and support refugees. It is truly a life-changing experience.”
The UK scheme has been set up by the government working closely with civil society groups and international partners including the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, which is jointly led by the Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Open Society Foundations, the Radcliffe Foundation, and the University of Ottawa.
The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, also spoke at the event.
“Through the community sponsorship scheme for refugees, the UK will be able to help bring more vulnerable people around the world to safety. I have no doubt that private sponsorship, which has been so positive in Canada, will also bring long-term advantages for individual communities in the UK and the entire country.”