Sponsoring a refugee family is a significant responsibility. We advocate for Community Sponsors to ensure that they are properly supported throughout their journey.
Our advocacy focuses on representing the views of Community Sponsors to the Home Office and then supporting the Home Office to design and implement the necessary operational changes. We also represent the views of Community Sponsors to other key stakeholders, including Local Authorities, international organisations, the wider resettlement field, housing providers and financial institutions.
We also use our voice to campaign on policies beyond Community Sponsorship affecting refugees. We are members of the Families Together coalition campaigning for fair and compassionate family reunion rules, and the Together With Refugees coalition, campaigning for a more humane approach to people seeking protection in the UK.
Examples of our advocacy successes:
Access to financial services for refugees. A number of Community Sponsorship groups highlighted the difficulties that refugees face in opening bank accounts so we convened a group of financial organisations. We then worked with the Financial Conduct Authority to collate experiences of refugees opening bank accounts. Findings contributed to the Refugee Council’s guidance on helping refugees to open bank accounts.
Tackling void property costs. We worked with the Home Office to introduce an eight week period of actual void property reimbursement to prevent Community Sponsors from having to pay rent on properties in the two months prior to the arrival of the refugees they’re supporting. In April 2021, the void property reimbursement for four bedroomed properties was increased to a 12 week period. Community Sponsorship groups who claim the void costs will need to evidence the rent that they pay. More detailed information for Community Sponsorship groups is available on our Training Website.
Improving cultural awareness training. We heard from lots of Community Sponsors that they felt that the refugees they support could have been better prepared for the reality of life in the UK. We collated feedback from groups on the training and a new programme was implemented.