"How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world!"
CHARIS is working with Reset to shape a national community-led resettlement programme to support refugees affected by the Syrian crisis, as they rebuild their lives in the UK. We are funded by the Home Office and philanthropic foundations, mobilising the skills, resources and compassion of communities, faith groups, businesses and refugee charities.
Through community sponsorship, a community group supports the empowerment of refugee families to become self-sufficient members of their new community by:
Community volunteers take on the responsibility that would normally fall to local authorities and professional charities by welcoming a refugee family and supporting them to adapt to life in the UK. This is a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Being a community sponsor harnesses the generosity of local people, creating new bonds and friendships. It breaks down barriers and offers critical support to refugees at an extremely vulnerable point in their lives. All of the refugee families would have experienced immense hardship and heartache. Community sponsorship is a rewarding opportunity for people across the country to make a real difference to people’s lives.
Acting as a community sponsor to a resettled family is hugely rewarding, but it is also a significant responsibility. To make sure that you are prepared to resettle a family, your group will need to create a clear plan for how you will resettle and integrate the family into a safe and supportive environment. This will involve:
In addition, your group will either need to be, or be partnered with, a registered charity or community interest company (you can even set up a new charity for your group). Working towards meeting these requirements takes time, as well as a little effort, motivation and goodwill. CHARIS is here to ensure you get the support and training you need to participate in this rewarding scheme.
The Home Office approves every sponsor. The approval process is designed to establish that the prospective sponsor:
You can apply to be approved as a sponsor using the application form and resettlement plan template found on their website. The Home Office will assess your suitability to be a community sponsor, according to the criteria set out below.
Your organisation must have status as either:
There must be a named individual with responsibility for the sponsorship arrangement, the ‘lead sponsor’. The lead sponsor should hold a permanent and senior position within the organisation. Typically, they will be a member of the board of the charity or community interest company, or hold the position of Chief Executive or director or equivalent. There must be a clear line of accountability between the lead sponsor and the personnel delivering the Resettlement plan.
Refugee families are vulnerable people fleeing conflict. The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) resettles those who are affected by the Syrian crisis, which means most families resettled in the UK under the VPRS or the Vulnerable Childrens Resettlement Scheme (VPCS) are Syrian, although some may be from other nationalities such as Iraqi or Sudanese. They will primarily be Arabic speakers and are referred by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) from the region surrounding Syria. These families primarily have Arabic as their main language. Sponsors are not able to identify or select a specific individual, family or nationality to sponsor, but it is possible to indicate the type of language support that can be provided on the application form.
The resettled family will be granted refugee status and five years ‘leave to remain’ in the UK. During this time, they will have the right to work and access to public funds including being able to claim mainstream benefits. After five years the resettled family will have the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.