Let's mobilise our Community Sponsorship Groups in this period of social distancing

19 March 2020

Refugee resettlement to the UK has been temporarily halted in repsonse to the Covid-19 pandemic. But Reset's Co-Directors, Dr Kate Brown & Dr Monika Kruesmann, explain why your Community Sponsorship Group still has an important role to play.

At the core of Community Sponsorship is the knowledge that social bonds are precious and transformative. The focus of Community Sponsorship has been on how these bonds can transform the experience of moving to new country for a refugees. But just as important is how the bonds that are formed through Community Sponsorship can support and enrich the lives of the people in the host community – your community.

We’ve heard now that UNHCR and IOM are suspending refugee resettlement due to the global pandemic. But this does not mean that Community Sponsorship Groups no longer have a role to play.

Now is the time to mobilise those networks that you’ve created as you formed your Community Sponsorship Group, as you prepared your application, and as you welcomed a family into your local area.

At Reset, we would love to hear what your Group is doing to reach out to people who will be finding this period of social distancing and even self-isolation very tricky. We’ve got some ideas below:

  • Collect groceries for your local foodbank. A lot of foodbanks have been struggling for donations as people continue to stockpile. Ask Group members to put a little of their shopping aside and leave it at their front door at a certain time. Then one/a group of you can collect it all and take it to the donation point. (If you go as a group, keep a safe distance apart!) Check out where your nearest foodbank is: https://www.trusselltrust.org/
  • Find out who in your Group is self-isolating, what support they need, and who is available to offer support. Then coordinate a response amongst your Group. Offer to do shopping, walk dogs, bring round DVD box sets, books etc.
  • Being outdoors can do wonders for mental health. Organise outdoor activities that don’t involve physical contact for those who aren’t self-isolating, e.g. a walk around your nearest park. One member of a Community Sponsorship Group in South London has organised an outdoors coffee morning on her street.
  • Host virtual activities for those self-isolating, e.g. a virtual coffee morning, virtual book club. If you’re unsure of how to set up virtual meetings, some free applications that you might find useful are Skype and Zoom. You can find clear instructions on how to use Zoom here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us
  • Donate to the Refugee Council’s Refugee Solidarity Fund so that they can keep vital services running digitally until they can return to normal functioning. Share this link with the rest of your Group members!

Government advice on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is changing quickly. We urge you to all follow the latest advice, which you can find here.

Please do reach out to Reset if you have questions about Community Sponsorship over the coming weeks and months. Our team is working remotely and we’re committed to continuing to provide you with support.

Let's mobilise our Community Sponsorship Groups in this period of social distancing is also published in Reset UK on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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