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British Red Cross VOICES Network report: hearing the voices of sponsored families

16 February 2022

We were delighted to fund the VOICES Network to carry out a second phase of research with refugees resettled through Community Sponsorship into their experience of arriving in the UK. We believe this will offer Community Sponsorship groups a great deal of food for thought as they prepare to welcome families to the UK.

Participants from sponsored refugee families came together online to participate in workshops run by the VOICES Network with a special focus on the experience of women and older people. We provided a supermarket voucher and certificate of participation (co-produced by the VOICES Network) to everyone who took part. 

We would encourage you to read Phase 2 of the report and the initial report in conjunction with one another as this will offer a comparison of experience and feedback, reminding us that everyone’s experience and recommendations will be different, and that taking a person-centred approach to supporting individuals is key. 

We commissioned this research to find out what Reset and Community Sponsorship groups can do better so that we can improve the experience of resettlement for refugees in the future. Participants shared their experiences to help us to do this. We really value their honesty and their willingness to share their feedback.

The report found that:

  • Better pre-departure and immediate arrival induction information was needed for families.

  • Interpretation support was highly valued by those who participated, and greater involvement of bilingual volunteers in Community Sponsorship groups was recommended.

  • An increase in training and volunteering opportunities would be welcomed.

  • The lack of a family-reunification pathway to bring loved ones to the UK caused concern and worry to those resettled.

  • Families who participated in this phase of the report wanted a deeper understanding of how services work in the UK, such as the health care system. This understanding would help them learn how to navigate these services independently.

  • There is a strong desire for increased opportunities to learn and practice English outside of a formal learning environment.

We are taking time to reflect on these findings, and will be following up with our next steps.