Sponsoring a refugee family is a significant responsibility. We advocate for Community Sponsors to ensure that they are properly supported throughout their Community Sponsorship journey.
Our advocacy focuses on representing the views of Community Sponsors to the Home Office's Community Sponsorship team and then supporting the Home Office to design and implement the necessary operational changes. This is vital to encouraging more sponsors to get involved.
We also represent the views of Community Sponsors to other key stakeholders, including Local Authorities, housing providers and financial institutions.
We are fortunate to advocate for a resettlement programme which has strong cross-party support in the UK, including from the current Government. We receive funding from the Home Office and have built a very productive relationship with their dedicated Community Sponsorship team.
Examples of our advocacy work
- Redesiging a shorter and simpler application form: we supported the Home Office to redesign the Community Sponsorship application form.
- Access to financial services for refugees: in response to stories from a number of Community Sponsorship Groups about the difficulties that refugees face in opening bank accounts, we invited a number of financial organisations to a meeting in London. This led us to work with the Financial Conduct Authority to collate experiences of refugees opening bank accounts. Our work is ongoing.
- Tackling void property costs: we worked with the Home Office to introduce an 8 week period of void property reimbursement to prevent Community Sponsors from having to pay rent on properties in the 2 months prior to the arrival of the refugees they're supporting.
- Improving cultural awareness training: we heard from lots of Community Sponsors that they felt that the refugees they support could have been better prepared for the reality of life in the UK. We collected feedback on the cultural curriculum that refugees receive prior to travel in the UK from refugees and sponsors. The revised training will begin in Summer 2020.
How we collect views
Through our Community Sponsorship Training, we have direct contact with every Community Sponsorship Group while they prepare to welcome refugee families. After sponsored refugees arrive in the UK, we regularly check in with them and their sponsors through our Post-Arrival Support Visits. From August 2020, we'll also be conducting telephone interviews once a family has been in the UK for 2 years, in order to gather feedback from Groups who have experienced the whole process. These used to be carried out by the Home Office.
We organise the Lead Sponsor Network, open to any organisation who has or is acting as a Lead Sponsor for Community Sponsorship Groups. We listen to the issues they face, and help to provide collective solutions. We provide a monthly update on Community Sponsorship directly to the network.
We convene the Community Sponsorship Council, a representative body set up to give sponsors a forum to shape the Community Sponsorship programme. The Council feeds into our advocacy.
When we are working on a particular issue, we send round surveys and invite people to get in touch to share their thoughts on the issue. Make sure you're signed up to receive our newsletter.
We aren't currently focusing on any particular issues, but we are constantly working to improve the Community Sponsorship scheme so that sponsors are fully supported throughout the application process and after the refugee family has arrived. If you have any issues that you want to raise, you can: