The new Home Secretary Amber Rudd has unveiled what she described as a “groundbreaking” new scheme aimed at encouraging community groups across the UK to sponsor a refugee family.
The Full Community Sponsorship scheme will enable community groups including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK.
A ‘Help Refugees in the UK’ webpage has also been developed for the gov.uk website to make it easier for any member of the public to support refugees in the UK and allow local authorities to focus support on the goods and services that refugees need.
The sponsorship scheme and webpage have been launched as part of the Government’s commitment to resettle thousands of the most vulnerable refugees in the UK.
“The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance”, Ms Rudd said
She added that the scheme would help bring communities together.
“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.”
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 sponsorship and check that they have the agreement of the relevant local authority.
All resettled refugees arriving in the UK, including those under Full Community Sponsorship, will have been through a thorough security vetting process.
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.
Members of the public are already volunteering to support resettled refugees in many different ways.
The Help Refugees in the UK website is also being launched today to help target that help where it is most needed.
It is initially being piloted in nine local authorities 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.
The website will be rolled out to further local authorities across the country in the coming months.
In September 2015 the Government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees via the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme. The latest published statistics show that more than 1,800 Syrians in need of protection have so far been provided with refuge in the UK.