All over the UK, all sorts of people have come together to do this – including faith groups, local charities and businesses. By September 2020, around 450 individuals had been resettled in the UK through Community Sponsorship.
Why is Ripon City of Sanctuary doing Community Sponsorship?
- In the past, we decided not to go ahead because it brought no additional refugees to the UK: any individuals brough tto the UK under Community Sponsorship simply came off the government’s existing targets (so it just shifted the burden of work from the government onto local volunteers). However, in June 2019, the #ExtendtheWelcome campaign successfully petitioned the government to agree that community sponsorship would be counted in addition to government resettlement numbers.
- When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the UK government suspended its own resettlement scheme. It has not yet fully reopened, which means the UK has not been meeting its resettlement commitments for a year and the UK has fallen behind in bringing refugees to safety.
- The pandemic has affected routes into the UK, forcing more and more desperate individuals either into the hands of traffickers or into unsafe boats or lorries. It’s vital to provide safe and legal routes to safety for those who have had to flee war, conflict or persecution.
- We know that there is a strong base of care and concern for refugees within our community.
- Community Sponsorship sends a strong message that refugees are welcome in the UK.
- We now have 3 refugees families in Ripon who would love the chance to help a new family settle in.
What must we do to make Community Sponsorship happen?
For more detail on this, find out about the 10 steps.
- We need the consent of NYCC and Harrogate Borough Council
- We need to draft a comprehensive plan for resettlement, covering everything from sorting out housing and schools to greeting at the airport, medical/social services support, help with opening bank accounts, setting up wifi, sourcing furniture and equipment, English tuition, employability support, befriending and more
- We need to raise £9,000 in advance of the family’s arrival
- We need to find housing for the refugee family for 2 years, which has been approved by the police and Harrogate Borough Council, after which it is hoped the family can self-sustain
- We need to help them to integrate into life in the UK and become and self-sufficient and independent.
Who would come here?
- A family will be selected for us by the UNHCR from among refugees already registered with them. This is the same way that families are identified for the UK government’s resettlement programmes.
- The family will go through the same robust interviews, medical screening and security vetting as families on the government resettlement programmes.
- We can’t choose which family is allocated to Ripon, but we’re invited to provide plenty of information about our context here in order to maximise the chances of a successful placement. For example, explaining that we have a small Syrian community here means we’d be more likely to welcome an Arabic-speaking family.
How long does Community Sponsorship take?
- It takes about 12 months to prepare as a sponsoring group (forming the group, drawing up plans and making the application.
- After the application has been sent to the Home Office, it takes about 6 months to approve the group, identify a refugee family, and fly them to the UK.
- The commitment is to support the family for 12 months after their arrival, during which time the family becomes more independent. After that, informal friendships will have developed and can step in.
How can you get involved?
There are 3 ways to get involved: Join, Help, Give. For more detail on this, find out how you can help.
- It takes lot of people, time and skills – but it’s very doable! Places like Settle, Pateley Bridge and Penrith have either already done it or are going through the application process
- We’d like to hear from anyone who can offer their time and practical help, especially people who hold ESOL qualifications, understand the UK benefits system, or have fundraising experience.
- If you’d like to know more or to get involved, please express your interest by emailing [email protected]