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.
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
Sponsors and sponsored refugees give us their views:
- at our Community Sponsorship Training
- at our Post-Arrival Support Visits
- via our advice and support services
We collect views from Lead Sponsors through the the Lead Sponsor Network.
We also 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.
Piloting an accelerated application process
Alongside Refugee Hub, the GRSI and Lead Sponsors, we’ve worked with the Home Office over the past 6 months to redesign the Community Sponsorship application process.
The new process will be piloted with Community Sponsorship Groups supported through experienced Lead Sponsors and will involve 2 stages.
- Stage 1: the Group demonstrates their preparedness, e.g. by outlining the range of skills covered by the members of the Group
- Stage 2: the Group is allocated a refugee family and develops a resettlement plan to support that particular family
This will be time limited and both stages will require Local Authority consent.
We know that the current application process takes too long, and lots of Groups have told us that they find planning their support for a family in the abstract very challenging. A key change in this process is that Community Sponsorship Groups will be matched with refugee families earlier, enabling them to plan their support for a particular family, rather than in the abstract. It's hoped that the process will be speedier.
Of course, until flights begin, we won’t be able to fully test this. Nevertheless, we’re delighted by the trust in the Community Sponsorship programme that the Home Office is demonstrating by beginning this pilot phase. The Lead Sponsors participating in the pilot are aware of their involvement and will be supported throughout by Reset.
Raise an issue
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: