At the heart of any sponsorship is the sponsorship group. But you won’t be able to welcome and support a refugee family into your community in isolation. You will need partners beyond the group. They will have experience and expertise you won’t necessarily have. They will be the gateway to services the refugee family might need. So, at an early stage, it is worth doing a simple ‘mapping exercise’ to work out who these partners might be. They should certainly include the following:
- Your local authority – You will need their help in many ways and to proceed with sponsorship you will have to obtain their written consent.
- Local landlords and housing bodies - Some sponsoring groups find suitable and affordable accommodation through their own members or through institutions they are attached to, such as churches and mosques, but others need to find partners in their local area.
- Interpreters - If you don’t have dual English/Arabic speakers in your group, you will need to find people willing to do interpreting who live reasonably nearby.
- ESOL - Do you have colleges that provide courses or individuals who are trained to teach English as a second language? You will need one or other.
- Refugee support groups - In many areas, there are local groups with long experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers, which could be helpful to you. Find out more about them and if they could help.
- Mosques – The refugee family you end up welcoming could well be practising Muslims and nearby Mosques might help with cultural orientation, with interpreting and with providing a welcome.
This exercise, alongside assessing the internal resources of your group, should help you to work out how feasible it is for you to be a successful sponsor, before you go too far along the process of application.