Community and faith groups will be able to sponsor Syrian refugee families who are being resettled in the UK under a new scheme launched by the Government today.
Under the community sponsorship programme, charities and community interest companies will need to provide housing for the family they sponsor, as well as helping them to integrate into life in the UK, access medical and social services, arranging English language tuition and supporting them towards employment and self-sufficiency.
The scheme will be primarily aimed at helping the 20,000 Syrian refugees being resettled here by 2020. The Government has not committed to using community sponsorship to expand that scheme and bring more refugees to safety. However, the Refugee Council hopes it will become a way for more refugees to come to the UK safely and legally in the future.
Sponsoring organisations need the agreement of their local authority and a comprehensive plan for resettlement in order to apply for the scheme. The Home Office has promised it will check that potential sponsors do not present a risk to the resettled family.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren welcomed the announcement of the scheme, saying: “This scheme helps harness the eagerness and determination of the public to welcome refugees into their communities. Hopefully it can also become a way for more refugees of all nationalities to reach the UK safely and legally in the future.
“While this sponsorship scheme is welcome progress, it must be complemented by a much wider, compassionate and comprehensive response from the Government to addressing the global refugee crisis which prioritises giving more refugees safe passage here, particularly those who are desperate to join their loved ones.”
Refugees being resettled in the UK are extremely vulnerable, so the Refugee Council believes it’s vital the Government invests sufficient resources to ensure that both the sponsors and refugees receive the support they will need in order to make this scheme a success.
The Government is also launching a new website ‘Help Refugees in the UK’ which is being piloted in nine local authorities. It will enable local authorities to request the type of help they most need to support refugees in their area, ranging from baby clothes to homes. Members of the public who are able to help can then offer their donation through the website.
The Refugee Council hopes that all asylum seekers and refugees who have come through the asylum system will benefit from the new website, as they are often the people most in need.