Shortly after the Covid lockdown in 2020, and with many volunteers unable to travel, we decided to see what we could do to support refugees in the UK.
After a long and bureaucratic process Refugee Support is now a Government approved ‘Lead Sponsor’ able to support local groups to help resettle refugee families in the UK.
We decided to be part of this for three important reasons:
- The number of refugees resettled under this scheme are on top of govt and local authority commitments so will increase the number of refugees able to find safety in the UK
- They receive the same entitlements and benefits as UK citizens from the day that they arrive
- People can get directly involved in helping people safely rebuild their lives
Our local group: RSE Birmingham Welcomes
Co-founder John Sloan established our local group ‘RSE Birmingham Welcomes‘ with some local Birmingham volunteers.
In June 2021, they welcomed a family from the Darfur region of Sudan. We are delighted that this family of 6 has escaped the refugee camp in Jordan they’ve been living in for the last 5 years and get a chance to rebuild their lives.
We’re also delighted that this is the first Sudanese family to come to the UK under this scheme.
We found a great house for them, offered by a landlord at a generous rent, and a great bunch of people who have helped them settle in to their new life.
Meeting them from the airport and introducing them to their new home was very exciting.
Could you welcome a family?
Yes! It is an important undertaking that needs to be take seriously. You need to:
- Commit to at least one year helping the family live independent lives in the UK
- Raise £9,000 to cover possible additional expenses
- Welcome them at the airport
- Help them to apply for and access English lessons, schools, benefits, healthcare, training and employment
- Find accommodation for the refugee family for their first 2 years
Check out the wonderful Reset organisation established to support the sponsors and local groups.They will help you through the whole process.
What is the Community Sponsorship Scheme?
Back in 2016, the UK Government launched the Community Sponsorship Scheme. It gave community groups the opportunity to welcome a family from the Syrian conflict to the UK. In 2020, the Home Office programme was extended for another 5 years and other nationalities were included. To date, around 450 refugees have been welcomed through the scheme.
Refugee families who are eligible for resettlement are identified by the UNHCR. They are then matched to an approved local UK group that supports them after their arrival and helps them settle into their new lives.