I believe that welcoming refugees is both a responsibility and a privilege. It’s the responsibility of every nation as our world is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. It’s a privilege because refugees transform our local communities and make us better. When we started calling for Community Sponsorship in 2015, I was motivated by a sense of responsibility and duty. Four years later, having seen more than 400 refugees sponsored, welcomed and integrated by UK communities, it’s the sense of privilege, that most overwhelms me.
It feels strange and also sad to be moving on from Reset. Over the last four years, most of my work has involved helping communities in the UK and other countries around the world to embrace Community Sponsorship. As any sponsor will tell you, Community Sponsorship becomes part of you. And to quote many a sponsor, “it may be the most important thing we’ll ever do.”
It has been a real honour to have a small role in the implementation of the Community Sponsorship scheme by Chairing Reset’s Board of Trustees. During my time at Reset, we have seen the Community Sponsorship scheme grow substantially, reaching every region of the UK. We have helped to secure brighter futures for refugees by building the capacity of local communities to welcome refugees and helping government to secure the future of its resettlement schemes. From 2020, all refugees welcomed through Community Sponsorship will be counted in addition to those welcomed through the government’s schemes. As a result of Community Sponsorship, our country will welcome more refugees. There’s a lot for everyone who has worked on this project to feel proud of.
At the same time, we can clearly do more. Community Sponsorship can be bigger and better. Sometimes it still feels as though Community Sponsorship is a well-kept secret. We now need to blurt out that secret, loud and clear, to anyone who will listen. Having helped to establish it in the first place, being louder, and prouder, about Community Sponsorship is Reset’s next big opportunity.
I know the incoming Chair, Chris Clements, will work to make this happen. Chris and I worked closely together to establish Reset and I am certain that Reset will flourish further under his guidance.