One of the most powerful ways churches can show solidarity with people seeking sanctuary in the UK is by getting involved in resettlement projects. Community Sponsorship is one of the key ways local groups can get involved in resettlement.
Community Sponsorship is a government run initiative where communities in the UK can come together to sponsor a refugee or a refugee family to resettle in the UK. The government works with the UN to identify people and families in refugee camps who are eligible for resettlement in the UK, and match them up with communities.
As part of the project, local communities commit to practically and socially support the people resettled into their community in their first year of resettlement. They help them build their independence, including learning English, accessing schools, benefits, healthcare and employment, and to get involved in the local community.
The requirements on a community who get involved with community sponsorship include:
- meeting the family at the airport
- providing a warm welcome and cultural orientation
- providing housing
- supporting access to medical and social services
- supporting access to English language tuition
- supporting registration with local Job Centre Plus and assistance with navigating social welfare provision
- support towards employment and self-sufficiency
The formal responsibility on the community lasts for one year, except for in providing housing, which lasts for two.
Reset UK are a charity who support communities to explore whether they can get involved with community sponsorship, and to get involved in the scheme. They run introductory sessions, and provide practical support throughout the process.