What is Community Sponsorship and how does it work?
Community sponsorship is a way that community groups can be involved in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable people fleeing conflict.
Community Sponsorship is a relatively new way of bringing refugees to the UK. Before 2016, refugees were settled by local councils. Now they can also be settled by local civic, faith or business groups, after vetting by local and central government.
So far, only a few families have been settled by Community Sponsor groups across the UK. Anecdotal evidence suggests that refugees who arrive like this integrate into British society more quickly than others. Groups like Welcome Syrian Families are only allowed to host a family if they have a comprehensive resettlement plan in place and a team of people ready to help. In effect, no refugee arrives in the UK under Community Sponsorship as a stranger.
It’s an idea that has a proven track record – it’s based on a similar scheme in Canada, which has already successfully settled more than 250,000 refugees in the past 25 years.
It was introduced into the UK by prime minister David Cameron in 2016 after consultation with the National Refugee Welcome Board – an organisation of more than 40 civic society organisations – and Citizens UK
It followed the government’s promise in 2015 to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme at the height of the war in Syria. But Community Sponsors may also be allocated a family from elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa as part of the government’s pledge to house another 3,000 refugees from around the world.
All refugees who arrive here under this scheme are fully entitled to claim benefits and to work without restrictions. Refugees coming to the UK under Community Sponsorship are included in the 2020 resettlement quotas and do not increase the total number of refugees that the UK accepts. However Welcome Syrian Families – along with many other groups – hopes that the growing success of the scheme will encourage the government to bring over even more vulnerable people. Citizen’s UK recently launched its ‘Extend the Welcome’ campaign to lobby for this.
For a personal story about becoming a community sponsor from a young man click here