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Community sponsorship scheme launches to help refugees

Community sponsorship scheme launches to help refugees

The Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury have launched schemes to encourage community groups to sponsor a refugee family, and help individuals support in their area.

The full community sponsorship scheme aims to help community groups including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses support resettled refugees in the UK.

Sponsoring organisations must have status as either a registered charity or community interest company, the consent of the local authority in which they wish to operate, and a comprehensive plan for resettlement in order to apply for the scheme. The Home Office will consider all offers of and check that they have the agreement of the relevant local authority.

Sponsors will provide housing for the refugee family, 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.

Lambeth Palace is the first community group to be approved to receive a refugee family and the government is working with a number of prospective sponsors and local authorities to enable their participation.

An online service has also been developed to make it easier for members of the public to support refugees in their area by helping local authorities communicate the goods and services that are required.

This scheme is initially being piloted in nine local authorities including Cambridge, Lambeth, and Wiltshire, and has been designed to enable local authorities to specify the type of donations they most require to support refugees in their area.

Users can select from a range of options for donations, including goods such as baby equipment and clothes, group and cultural outings and the use of vacant housing that must be self-contained and available for a period of at least 12 months.

Offers of help can be made by members of the public across the country. In non-pilot areas these will be considered centrally by the Home Office before being passed on to local authorities, and further local authorities will be added to the online service in the coming months.

The schemes have been launched as part of the government’s commitment to resettle thousands of the most vulnerable refugees in the UK. In September 2015 the government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees via the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement (VPR) scheme.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said:

“This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support. I hope that this new approach will help bring communities together and support these often traumatised and vulnerable families as they rebuild their lives, and contribute to and thrive in our country.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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