"Being involved in a Community Sponsorship group has been one of the best experiences of my life." Jo, Community Sponsor in Ashtead
Community Sponsorship is a refugee resettlement programme with local people at its heart. It enables you to welcome a refugee family to your local area and support them as they rebuild their lives.
Hundreds of refugees have now been sponsored across the UK. Community Sponsorship Groups are active in every region of the UK.
Hear from the Pickwell Foundation's Community Sponsorship Group in Devon.
How it all started
More than 70 million people are displaced across the world.
In 2015, David Cameron agreed that the UK would welcome 20,000 refugees affected by the crisis in Syria by 2020.
This was a great development, but lots of us knew we could do more. Organisations including Citizens UK and numerous faith-based charities asked the government to introduce a sponsorship scheme, like that in Canada, which would allow people in the UK to play a direct role in welcoming and supporting refugees.
In Canada, more than 300,000 refugees have been sponsored since 1979.
The government listened, and in 2016 the Community Sponsorship scheme was launched by the the Home Office in partnership with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Very quickly, Community Sponsorship Groups sprung up across the UK. Hundreds of refugees have since been sponsored by local communities and supported to learn English, meet new people and access education and employment.
Community Sponsorship today
There's no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for Community Sponsorship in the UK. But Community Sponsorship Groups adapted to the 'new normal' incredibly quickly so that we could safely support and welcome refugee families. We worried that the pandemic would mean that fewer sponsors came forward, at the same time as it increased the need of the refugees waiting to be resettled. But the opposite happened: more people than ever before stepped up. We've been amazed at how many people have got involved in welcoming refugees since the pandemic began.