From the Muslim Vibe: How the Muslim community can change the lives of refugees

14 April 2020

This piece from Azim Kidwai, CEO of Mercy Mission, was first published here by the Muslim Vibe. 

A couple of years ago, on a cold, rainy evening in London, people gathered in a room hoping to find out how they could make a difference to the refugee crisis. Listening to Dr Russ Rook, Founder and Chair of Reset, talk about Community Sponsorship, I realised there was a unique opportunity for ordinary people like me to change the lives of refugees, and strengthen our local communities at the same time. 

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of starting a Muslim-led Community Sponsorship group that will soon be supporting a refugee family in their first year in the UK. And despite Coronavirus hitting pause on many things, starting a sponsorship group is something you can do from home, which can strengthen your connection to your community even virtually!

You may not have heard of Community Sponsorship yet either. It was introduced by the government in 2016, and since then over 400 refugees have been resettled through the scheme. Each time, a refugee family is placed with a group of friends, neighbours or colleagues who have come together and been trained in how to best support them as they settle into their new community. 

It’s not only the 400 refugees’ lives that have changed as a result. The lives of the sponsors who volunteer to support them – of which I am one – also change. We learn new things, strengthen ties with others in our communities, and ultimately know that we have had a positive impact on the lives of people who have had to flee their homes.

It’s no wonder that a growing number of Muslim-led groups are getting involved: we’re well placed to support refugees. Our community is incredibly diverse, and has a genuine sense of responsibility for refugees, many of whom are Muslim. This sense of responsibility, coupled with strong communities, mosque facilities, and an interest in how we can help others is probably why Muslims are increasingly interested in the scheme. 

And now, there’s even more reason to be a part of the movement, as refugees resettled through the scheme will begin to be counted in addition to government resettlement targets as part of the UK’s new commitment. In other words, this is the only way as citizens we can personally and directly increase the number of refugees that the UK allows to build a new life here.

From the Muslim Vibe: How the Muslim community can change the lives of refugees 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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