UK Community Sponsorship Scheme launched

The UK Home Office has launched the community refugee sponsorship scheme to enable community groups (including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses) to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK.

Lambeth Palace is the first community group to be approved to receive a refugee family.

UK Gov Refugee online help serviceThey have also launched an online service to help members of the public target their support for refugees in the UK. [The online service is similar to that run by the Irish Red Cross, though the UK scheme particularly targets needs identified within particular local authority areas.]

Amber Rudd is the newly appointed UK Home Secretary. She said:

“The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance.

“This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support.

“I hope that this new approach will help bring communities together and support these often traumatised and vulnerable families as they rebuild their lives, and contribute to and thrive in our country.”

UK Gov Refugee community sponsorship formsSponsoring organisations must have status as either a registered charity or community interest company, the consent of the local authority in which they wish to operate, and a comprehensive plan for resettlement in order to apply for the scheme.

Sponsors will provide housing for the refugee family, as well as helping them to integrate into life in the UK, access medical and social services, arranging English language tuition and supporting them towards employment and self-sufficiency.

Photo: Lambeth PalaceThe Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“The full 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. I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth Council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen.”

The Home Office press release notes that 1,800 Syrians in need of protection have so far been provided with refuge in the UK via the Vulnerable Persons Scheme through which the UK government promised (in September 2015) to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees. The government additionally committed to accepting up to 3,000 vulnerable children and family members directly from the Middle East and North Africa.