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British Red Cross VOICES Network report into Community Sponsorship

10 March 2021

At Reset, we support Community Sponsorship groups to welcome refugee families by providing training sessions, advice workshops, post-arrival support visits, and more. Although we’re the ones delivering the training and providing the advice, we’re actually learning from Community Sponsorship Groups in all of these situations.

We’re learning what works and what doesn’t work. We’re learning why something that is practical in one location is impractical in another. And then we feed all of this learning back into our training and advice so that other Community Sponsorship Groups can benefit from these experiences.

Recently, we’ve been working to increase the opportunities for those who’ve been welcomed through Community Sponsorship to similarly influence our training, support and advice services. Check out the Experts by Experience resources on our Training Website.

We’ve been delighted to work with the British Red Cross VOICES network to make sure that we’re genuinely providing meaningful opportunities for people who’ve been welcomed to shape our work. To do this, the VOICES network hosted workshops with adults who arrived in the UK through Community Sponsorship. Then, based on these workshops, the VOICES network made recommendations for Reset’s work which they set out in a report. We’re so pleased to share this report with you all.

The VOICES network have set us a challenge: “To ensure that the voices of people with lived experience are at the heart of Community Sponsorship, we hope that our recommendations can be taken forward with the care and courage that the Community Sponsorship programme has so brilliantly demonstrated.” And we’re committed to meeting this challenge!

Findings of the report

  • All participants in the workshops participated in their own language – Arabic in this case. It was noted that participants felt more able to freely express themselves because they weren’t communicating through an interpreter.

  • A higher rate of participation was seen when participants reached out to their own networks rather than invitations being issued via Community Sponsorship Groups.

  • Challenges faced by those arriving in the UK included a lack of induction to life in the UK and isolation from other people with similar linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The report recommends that refugees be resettled close to other resettled families or at the same time.

  • There is confusion over the healthcare and benefits systems.

  • There is a need for greater English language provision and more volunteering and employment opportunities.

  • Family reunion and links are a high priority for resettled refugees.

  • Language barriers are the biggest challenge for families.

What will we do next?

  • Reset is continuing to work with British Red Cross to secure funding for a longer term project to further the work started.

  • We’re exploring induction packages that groups can utilise when they welcome families to the UK.

  • We will reflect the feedback from this report to the Home Office, looking to see where this can influence policy and practice around Community Sponsorship.

  • We will use the feedback provided to date in our resources and training.