Advice for Lead Sponsors

Being a Lead Sponsor for a Community Sponsorship Group is a big commitment for any charity or CIC and should not be undertaken lightly. If you have been approached by a Community Sponsorship Group asking you to act as their Lead Sponsor, Reset are here to help you explore what this means, consider the obligations that are placed on you, and help you to feel confident in working with a Community Sponsorship Group.

Thinking of becoming a Lead Sponsor?

If your charity has been approached by a Community Sponsorship Group to be their Lead Sponsor, there's a lot for you to think about.  We asked Charis Refugees, an organisation who are a Lead Sponsor to provide guidance for charities in this position.  

Read this report and guidance. 

What is a Lead Sponsor?

  • Takes legal responsibility for delivery of the Sponsor Agreement 
  • Acts as a guarantor of the Group for the £9,000 they must raise – you do not need to hold the fundraised amount themselves, but must be comfortable with the measures taken by the Group to ringfence this money
  • Will be confident with the approach and plans of the Group to support refugees including their Safeguarding processes (you may wish to ask them to use your policies)
  • Will be responsible for stepping in to assist should any problems with the Group or family arise
  • Will work with the Group and relevant Local Authorities to approve the refugee family allocated to the Group.  The Lead Sponsor will be given access to MOVEit – the Government’s online data transfer portal – there are stipulations on how and who accesses this information
  • Will sign and submit the application form to the Home Office – you do not have to be the project lead or work directly with the refugee family on a regular basis
  • Will agree to security checks being carried out on the named individual from your organisation
  • Will attend a pre-approval visit between the Group, Local Authority/Authorities and the Home Office
  • Will attend Post Arrival Support Visits after th family have arrived 
  • Will assume responsibility for the completion and submission of monitoring and evaluation as requested by the Home Office

It’s important to keep in mind that there is not a single way in which to ‘do’ Community Sponsorship.  Many Lead Sponsors have an MoU or agreement in place making each other’s obligations clear and setting expectations for how your relationship will work.

What support is available for Lead Sponsors?

Reset coordinate the Lead Sponsor Network - where Lead Sponsor Organisations of all sizes come together to share best practice, ideas and challenges. 

US Philanthropist Ed Shapiro has announced a £1million backstop assurance fund for Lead Sponsors, aiming to support 200 Community Sponsorship Groups to welcome 1,000 refugees.  This fund will reduce the financial exposure of Lead Sponsors by providing a backstop that they can access as a last resort if a local Community Sponsorship Group is unable to fulfil its resettlement plan for the refugee family they have welcomed.   At Reset, we're putting in place the processes to administer and manage this fund.  More details will be available in due course.  

There is a difference in being a Lead Sponsor (Charity or CIC that is legally responsible) and the Project Lead – the person or people coordinating the application, Group and the way in which they work to empower and support refugees.  This can mean that the majority of the application is completed via the Project Lead, but approved and sections 1, 2 and 4 completed by the Lead Sponsor.  When submitting, the Lead Sponsor can request all correspondence to be sent to the Project Lead too – this happens regularly.


It was easy for !Audacious Church to decide to be the Lead Sponsor for our Community Sponsorship Group; as a local Church we wanted to practically demonstrate our commitment to welcoming refugees. We are utterly confident in the team of volunteers that has risen up within our congregation that they will passionately and sensitively support a resettled family on arrival in the UK.  By adding Community Sponsorship to the many social justice programmes we deliver in the community  it has allowed us to both deepen existing and make new connections in our community, there by impacting not only a refugee family but the community they will be a part of."   Stuart Keir Associate Pastor !Audacious Church


What help can Reset offer to Lead Sponsors?

Advice on becoming a Lead Sponsor
Reset can talk through the challenges and benefits involved in being a Lead Sponsor, and help you put in place everything you need to support Community Sponsorship Groups. We can help you to explore how to become a Lead Sponsor in a way that works for your organisation, explaining the process and what is required by you at each stage.
Assist in drafting an MoU
We can assist you in drafting a memorandum of understanding or operating procedures outlining how you will work with a Community Sponsorship Group.
Share best practice
We can share best practice, resources and advice from our work with other Lead Sponsors around the UK and connect you with other charities who are acting as Lead Sponsors.

If you are a Lead Sponsor or considering becoming a Lead Sponsor, please contact us. We will be happy to help you explore this.