How do I sponsor a refugee to come to the UK?
The Community Sponsorship Scheme is open and looking for new volunteers, through this programme you can welcome a refugee family into your community. Here we will explain how the process works and what you need to do to make it happen. Don’t worry if it sounds a bit complicated, we’re here to support you every step of the way!
First off, you need to build a group to help you.
Why do I need to create a group?
It can be very lonely work dealing with bureaucracy and a Community Sponsorship requires you to navigate a lot of systems including the benefits system and the Home Office processes, not to mention finding a home for the refugee family to live in! Why do it alone when you can work with others? We recommend a group of at least five people but its more about the skills, experience and support the group can provide.
How do I set up a group?
Talk to your neighbours, think about local WhatsApp or Facebook groups or why not chat to colleagues at work? Suggest a meet up -virtual or IRL – and talk about why you want to embark on the journey of sponsorship. If your meeting is virtual, why not show them a video? As a group, you will think about what the refugee family will need and start making plans to ensure they can get English classes and access to healthcare. At this stage, you will also you need to find a lead sponsor
What is a lead sponsor?
To make the system a bit easier, there are a bunch of charities who can act as a ‘Lead Sponsor’, organisations like Citizens UK and the Salvation Army who can help you with the application you need to make to the Home Office
How do I complete the application, it sounds complicated?
We won’t lie, it can be a bit complicated, but we can help. Basically, the Home Office wants to know that you have thought about what a refugee family needs to settle in your community. Your ‘Lead Sponsor’ will likely have gone through the process before, but you can always rely on the Reset training and support to guide you through the process
Finding a house
Let’s be honest, finding a home in the UK is tough. But we have found that people are remarkably tenacious and networking in your own community can pay dividends. This is where your local authority can also help – talk to them about social housing in your area or landlord who will rent to people in receipt of benefits.
Although this is often seen as one of the biggest hurdles our experience is that people often find it one of the easiest to achieve. Currently, we advise you raise at least £9000 and there are a multitude of ways of doing this from sponsored walks to selling homemade jam and hosting yard sales. The money is used for things that the family will need such as school uniforms and household items.
Our application has been approved, what next?
Once your application is approved, the Home Office will work with the UNHCR to match you with a family identified as vulnerable and in need of resettlement. This matching often happens based on the size of the house you find – so if the house has two bedrooms, the Home Office will find a family that will suit that size of house.
This is a great time to look through the training that we offer at Reset – see if you want to develop new skills or better inform yourselves on what you might expect when you welcome a refugee family to your community.
Welcoming the family
The arrival of the family will be a moment you won’t forget. A small group of you will make your way to the airport, with signs of welcome and excitement, and meet the family you’ll be supporting. The first week is often when a lot of exciting things happen all at once. All the preparation you’ve been leading up to will take place. The family will have had a long journey to get to their home, so this part is a careful balance between carrying out important steps like registering for school places, GP practices and at the Job Centre, but also appreciating the family may want a bit of space!
However, when you welcome a family, most groups we speak to outline how lovely these first moments are. It is a real cultivation of a lot of hard work being put into practice. By this point, you will have been in contact with us through our trainings, and we will remain on hand to answer any queries you have. We also offer trainings that cover a lot of the frequently raised concerns or questions groups have when they have welcomed a family.
You can welcome refugees to the UK
Hopefully, this has shown you that you can welcome refugees into your community. If you are inspired to take action now, drop us a line [email protected] and we’ll get you started. If you’re still thinking about it, join our mailing list and we’ll give you more info on how you can make a difference in your community and support refugees.