My name is Bridget and I work at Reset in the Communications Team. One of the biggest reasons that I joined Reset was because of their role in supporting communities to welcome refugees through a transformative scheme called Community Sponsorship.
This week we are marking a big milestone – so far one thousand people have been welcomed through this scheme. And I want to use the opportunity of this milestone to tell you all about this scheme, why it’s by far the best way of welcoming refugees, and what you can do to spread the word and join in.
Firstly, Community Sponsorship is that rare thing – one of the few safe routes available to refugees. Put simply, a group of people within a community can decide that they want to welcome a refugee family and they can approach Reset to support them with that. There is paperwork, bureaucracy, and obstacles that need to be dealt with – the biggest one is usually finding a property that will be affordable to the new family (who will have the right to work and claim benefits) – but working together, and with our support, we find that groups are able to work through all of these and eventually they are able to welcome a family.
Families that are eligible for the scheme are identified by the UNHCR. They are often families that have spent a long time in UNHCR camps and are particularly in need of resettlement.
[You can read more about Ghazala and her family who arrived two years ago from Syria here]
There are several things about Community Sponsorship that stand out to me.
Firstly, families get their own front door. That’s such an important thing. There is a lot of research which shows that having you own home is key to well being and the ability to integrate.
Secondly this is a process which builds and strengthens community links and networks. We have worked with all sorts of groups, and they all say that the process of coming together to achieve a common goal of welcoming and supporting a new family has had benefits way beyond what they imagined.
But the thing that stand out to me the most is that while one thousand arrivals is a thing to celebrate, we need to use this as something to build on. If you agree that this is a great scheme – and I hope that you do – then what sort of numbers could we use it to welcome? Five thousand? Ten thousand? More?
Really the numbers are up to you. There are many ways that you can help.
If you want to go further, you can watch our brand new video explaining Community Sponsorship and how it works. It may not be something you are able to take on right now, but being an ambassador for the scheme and spreading the word is a vital part of building this programme.
And finally, if you or someone you know is ready to take that step and start a Community Sponsorship group then Reset are here for you all the way. Whichever step you are ready for, email us and help us build Community Sponsorship.