5 ways for every Community Sponsorship Group to make a difference this Christmas
1. Look out for each other
One of the most amazing things about Community Sponsorship is that it brings people together from different generations, different countries and different backgrounds.
Have a think about whether there’s anyone in your Group who might be alone this Christmas – maybe they’re an older person? Or maybe they can’t afford flights hometo their family in another country?
Look out for them. Is there a way you can brighten up their Christmas? Perhaps there’s room for an extra chair at your table.
2. Support the refugee family you've welcomed
Remember that Christmas in the UK will seem pretty weird if you’re not used to it… You’ll need to explain that many shops will close all day on Christmas Day and then will be at their very busiest on Boxing Day. You’ll need to explain that strangers might even turn up on the doorstep and start singing! Some members of your Group might not be around as much as they head off to visit family.
This Christmas, all nations will have bank holidays in the middle of the week, and Scotland has 2 in a row for Hogmanay! These public holidays may have an impact on the services the family are used to taking place.
Make sure you’ve explained that public transport timetables will change and that the process for seeing a doctor over Christmas might be a little different from normal (e.g. contacting an out of hours surgery).
3. Give the gift of Community Sponsorship to another neighbourhood
Some Community Sponsorship Groups find fundraising very easy, but others struggle to raise the required funds. If your Group has already reached your fundraising goal, why not donate to another Group? You’ll be giving the gift of Community Sponsorship to another neighbourhood, and what’s more special than that?
See which Groups are fundraising here.
4. Make use of the Christmas spirit to engage your community
Something about Christmas makes us all a little more open to making a difference. More money is donated to charity in the UK in December than any other month!
In particular, Christmas makes us think about how we can welcome strangers, and this is what Community Sponsorship is all about.
This means December is a great time to get out and about in your community and let people know about Community Sponsorship and how it transforms lives. Whether you’re fundraising or looking for volunteers, or whether you simply want to raise awareness in your community, hosting a Christmassy event can be a great way to get people engaged.
Why not invite your neighbours over for a Community Sponsorship information evening featuring mulled wine (don’t forget non-alcoholic versions) and mince pies? Perhaps your local church would allow you to give out leaflets at their Christmas carol service?
5. Volunteer with refugees and asylum seekers who don't have the support of a Community Sponsorship Group
Community Sponsorship is based on the knowledge that resettlement works best when local people get involved. As a Community Sponsorship volunteer, you don’t have to restrict your support to those who’ve been resettled through the Community Sponsorship scheme. There may well be other refugees and asylum seekers in your local area.
Through volunteering with Community Sponsorship, you will have gained skills that will be useful to other volunteering programmes in your local area that support refugees and asylum seekers. Lots of charities have a Christmas appeal -- perhaps you could spend some time collecting donations for a local charity that supports asylum seekers?
We know that Community Sponsorship Groups are going above and beyond to welcome a refugee family to their neighbourhood and make real change happen in their communities. We wish you all a truly happy Christmas.
5 ways for every Community Sponsorship Group to make a difference this Christmas is also published in Reset UK on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.