After almost 4 and a half years, I’m really sad to be moving on from my role of Head of Services at Reset. I feel incredibly privileged to have worked alongside so many extraordinary people absolutely committed to welcoming refugees to the UK over the course of my time here.
I’ve been proud to play a small part in the Community Sponsorship movement, and it’s been wonderful to see the growth in the numbers of friends and neighbours coming together to welcome refugees to their communities – with well over 800 refugees now welcomed through this programme.
I’ll never cease to be amazed by the steps that these extraordinary, ordinary people across the UK will take to demonstrate that all refugees and people seeking safety are welcome here.
I’ve been particularly inspired by the difference that refugee welcome can make to the people who do the welcoming, too; community-led welcome is transformational for all who get involved. Carol and Svenja are some of the people who have shared so much of their experience with us, which inspired others to get involved in their own neighbourhoods.
But, like all the best things, Community Sponsorship is about people working together – the steps to successful sponsorship are not a secret and it happens best of all when we talk, share and collaborate. Reset has always sought to share what others have experienced or found difficult on our support website for groups.
Community Sponsorship can’t happen without Lead Sponsors – organisations who put their trust and energy into groups of volunteers to welcome refugees. I think the Lead Sponsors are some of the unsung heroes of community-led welcome and working with them on the Lead Sponsor Network has been a real highlight of my time at Reset.
I’ve also been extremely lucky to work with our friends and colleagues at local authorities and devolved nations throughout the UK. When councils support their residents to support refugees, something truly special can happen. Stephen from Devon County Council told us about his experience of this.
In 2021, we worked on new ways to welcome people who had been displaced, partnering with the team at Talent Beyond Boundaries, and our amazing volunteers welcomed refugees arriving on displaced talent visas to work for the NHS in their communities. Seeing the impact that a friendly, helpful person can make through the Neighbours for Newcomers demonstrated a new way in which those seeking safety can be welcomed.
With Reset’s work now responding to Homes for Ukraine, preparing sponsors to welcome Ukrainians to their homes, there’s no doubt in my mind that community-led welcome is here to stay, and to grow.
Community-led welcome is not an easy thing to do. Welcoming someone to a new country and to navigate the myriad of systems, processes and layers of bureaucracy that exist, while someone goes through the experience of being resettled is hard, but you’re not alone. Support is available for Community Sponsorship groups, there are resources and advice for Homes for Ukraine sponsors, and I know the incredible team at Reset will always be happy to help.
But the thing that really makes all of this worthwhile is when people are welcomed, and they can see and feel the strength of communities in the UK, like Lena and Zahir did.
I’m really excited to be moving on to a new role with the incredible team at Refugees at Home, but the experience I’ve had at Reset and with all of the amazing people I’ve had the honour to work with will stay with me for a long, long time.
With very best wishes,