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“It’s really special knowing that hundreds of people in Ripon have donated so that a refugee family can find safety here.”

Community Sponsorship groups are required to raise £9000 to resettle a refugee family. Ruth Foulds leads the Ripon City of Sanctuary Community Sponsorship group. They’ve raised more than £6000 so far. Here she tells us how they’ve approached fundraising.

It’s true that raising £9000 seems daunting when you first look at the requirements for Community Sponsorship. Especially if you find the whole idea of asking for money uncomfortable or strange!

But fundraising has been a much more positive experience than we expected. Not only have we raised money more easily than we thought we would, but it’s also provided some really good opportunities for lots of people in Ripon to get involved in our project.

We raised just over £6000 in the first 3 months since we launched our group. Quite a lot of donations actually came in through our JustGiving page without us really having to try… we were absolutely amazed by people’s desire to help.

Most of our funding has come from small standing orders and one-off gifts. We have had a couple of bigger donations but our project is genuinely crowdfunded, and this is really important to us.

Although it’s wonderful to get big gifts, it feels really special knowing that hundreds of people in Ripon (and beyond!) have contributed what they can, whether that’s a one off gift of £5 or a few pounds every month. I think this ensures that Community Sponsorship is genuinely a community project.

Everyone who contributes to our fundraiser can know that they helped to bring a refugee family to safety in Ripon. I think that is really powerful.

Everyone who contributes to our fundraiser can know that they helped to bring a refugee family to safety in Ripon.

We recently had some really wonderful support from 2 local primary schools, Masham School and Bishop Monkton School. The kids decided that they wanted to help bring a refugee family to safety in our city and came up with ideas for how they could raise money.

The children at Masham School ran sponsored laps of their school playground. And one of their parents who owns a sweetshop in town agreed to donate a big jar of sweets so that they could play ‘guess how many sweets in the jar’.

It’s a really small school with just 120 pupils, but overall they raised £1500. We were amazed! I went to the school so that one of the pupils could give me the cheque in person and so that I could say thank you on behalf of Ripon City of Sanctuary.

We worked out that if we were to welcome a family of 6, then £1500 covers the cost of welcoming one family member. When we thanked the children, we put it in these terms so that they could really see the impact of their fundraising.

We’ve got a couple of fundraising and awareness-raising events lined up. The first of these is a stall at a church event called the ‘Extravanganza’. Lots of local projects have stands and there are games and little competitions.

Fundraising can be a really good opportunity for awareness raising, and this is such an important aspect of Community Sponsorship for us. We’re hoping to raise some money at the Extravaganza, but we’re actually more excited about talking to lots of people about what we’re doing and why. We want to raise awareness of issues facing refugees more generally. Community Sponsorship can be a good way to start a wider conversation about welcoming people seeking safety.

For the second event, we’re asking people to join us to walk the Sanctuary Way on 18th September. This is a circular walk that traces the original boundaries of ‘The Sanctuary of Ripon’ – an area around Ripon Cathedral going back to the 10th Century where people could seek sanctuary. Although the medieval meaning of sanctuary isn’t quite the same as today’s, we really like this symbolism: Ripon has been offering sanctuary for more than 1000 years.

Events like sponsored walks are a good way to reach people who don’t have time to volunteer for us regularly, but who do want to support us. This way they can give up just a few hours of their weekend as a one off rather than making an ongoing commitment which might be too much for them.

Overall, fundraising has been quicker than we expected and it’s really helped us to see the level of support that we have in the community.

To support Ripon City of Sanctuary to reach their goal, you can donate here.

Find out how you can set up a Community Sponsorship group.