IMPORTANT CHANGES TO APPLICATION PROCESS

The Home Office have introduced new Application Form for Community Sponsorship. 


This new form combines the previous Resettlement Plan template and Application Form into one document. This means that groups no longer need to submit a separate resettlement plan.

 

Download the new Application Form here.

Click here for guidance in how to complete it.

 

Don’t worry if your group have already started working on the old format (i.e. the resettlement plan + old application form), you don’t have to re-do it. The Home Office are still accepting the old format for several more months.

As always, our team are available to answer any questions, and very happy to visit your group should you need advice and support.

Contact us at: communitysponsorship@citizensuk.org. 

We look forward to working with you to bring many more refugee families to the UK in 2019!

Butetown Citizens Show Support for Refugee Family

Community sponsorship group Croeso Butetown have made local headlines for their efforts to resettle a refugee family in Wales.

The group were established by Citizens Cymru, and is a partnership of three institutions: St Mary’s Church, the South Wales Islamic Centre and Tabernacle Chapel. Their curry and quiz night, pictured here, raised £780, contributing towards their current total of over £8,000 for the project. They have submitted their application to the Home Office and are awaiting approval.

Click here to read the full article in InterCardiff.

 

How Community Sponsorship is Transforming Lives

Two years ago there was scepticism that volunteers could provide effective support to Syrian refugees coming to Britain. Nadine Daniel, the Church of England’s National Refugee Welcome Coordinator, writes about how the Community Sponsorship Scheme is now helping to transform the lives of refugees and host communities across the country from remote rural areas to the inner cities.

 

Click here to read her article

First Christmas

Mohammed and family were taken on a Christmas trip to LondonLast month saw over 100 community sponsored newcomers celebrate their first Christmas in the UK. The Huffington Post met one family in South West England to find out how they would be celebrating:

"For Mohammed, a 24-year-old Palestinian, Christmas feels new and strange, and though he is Muslim, he is keen to embrace the traditions of his new home. “Everything in the UK is different – different language, different culture, different jobs, but everything is good but it is expensive,” he says. 

He has lived in Taunton, Somerset, with his family since April after they fled from Iraq. He is supported by Christian Help and Action for Refugees in Somerset (CHARIS), a community sponsorship group who have sponsored two families in the last two years.

He lives with his mother and father, his 23-year-old brother and his sister, 17. Back in Iraq, he has a wife and two sisters who live with their families.

“I miss my wife and two sisters and their family who are back in Iraq. I like the UK – I will not go back to Iraq,” he said of his experience in Britain.

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Scotland's First Sponsorship

Guest blog written by Erica Brooks

Refugee Sponsorship Edinburgh hit a major milestone this month when we submitted our application to become community sponsors. It was the culmination of two years of slow and steady work, as we pieced together a community from scratch and found a way to fit sponsorship into a Scottish framework. It’s been a long road. But now we’re stepping into the new year ready for all that work to pay off.

We started life as a post in a Facebook group. We had each signed up to volunteer for a local refugee charity, and that was all we had in common. There were eight or nine people at our first meeting, a diverse group of Muslims, Catholics, and atheists – now there are 16 of us, including Protestant and Jewish members, from five different countries.

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The Next Stephen Hawking

Earlier this year, the world lost a great man with the death of the physicist Stephen Hawking.  Hawking has inspired many people, among them a remarkable young man from Syria.

12-year old Mouteb Ajaj arrived in the UK in March when his family was welcomed by the Community Sponsorship group in Muswell Hill, North London. In a short time, he has adapted well to life in London. This is the first time he and his brothers time have ever been able to go to school, and they have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. 

Mouteb is aiming high, as he revealed at the Community Sponsorship Awards in October when he spotted a portrait of Stephen Hawking hanging in the lobby of the Royal Society.  ‘I want to be the next Stephen Hawking’, he exclaimed.

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Fishguard Welcome a Second Family

Guest blog by Catherine Hammond

‘Yes’, the Croeso group in Fishguard said ‘We’ll have a second family’. There was a confidence born of already having settled a lovely family – parents Nasr and Najaha and 4 children - and the knowledge that we had learnt as a group what was or was not helpful. However, as the day of arrival approached, we began to frame the thought that there was no reason to suppose that a second family would settle as well as the first, or be as easy to get on with or enjoy living in West Wales between the sea and the farmland. We could only do the preparation as well as we could and then wait for the day of arrival.

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Meet the volunteers saving thousands of refugees

Written by Julia Rampen, republished from The New Statesman

In April 2016, Nour entered the Birmingham airport arrivals hall. “That experience totally changed my life,” she says. “I will never forget that day, ever.”

Nour came to the UK to study human rights in 2011, the same year that protests in Syria turned into first an uprising, and then a full-blown war. She spent the first years of the conflict feeling helpless: “We were just desperate to do something and we couldn’t.” Her own family remained trapped in Syria. “I would go days, weeks without hearing from them.”

The British government initially tried to focus its money on the swelling refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Then, in 2015, newspapers around the world published the photo of the body of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian Kurdish toddler who drowned when his family attempted the crossing from Turkey to Greece. In the midst of the global outrage, the then-prime minister, David Cameron, announced the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, with the goal of relocating 20,000 refugees to Britain by 2020. “When they launched the scheme that was my chance,” says Nour. “I thought ‘I have to do something.’”

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A Taste of Syria in the Heart of Bury

Three years ago the war in Syria forced Ghassan and Siham to leave everything and flee to Bury, Greater Manchester, to start a new life. Bury offered them a place of safety and hope; somewhere they could raise their daughter Katrina in peace and give her a future. They worked hard to learn English and integrate and grew to love Bury and its people. The bustling market in Bury reminded them of markets back home in Hama and slowly a dream began to form. A dream of starting their own business and becoming independent - of making their own way and giving back to the community that had welcomed them.

Meanwhile, Bury resident Heidi Reiss decided to take on the challenge of community sponsorship. She began by making links to Syrians who lived locally. It was here that she met Siham and Ghassan, and learnt of their dream to open a food stall. Without hesitation, Heidi and community partners supported the couple to initiate a fundraising campaign, attend marketing classes, and develop a business plan. Just seven weeks later, "Falafels and more..." was launched last Saturday in Bury Market.

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BREAKING NEWS: Home Office Will Pay Void Costs for Housing

We're delighted to announce that the Home Office will now pay up to 8 weeks of 'void costs' for empty housing.

Many community sponsorship groups have had to pay rent to keep a house empty while they wait for a family to arrive. Without the contribution of Housing Benefits, these costs - sometimes thousands of pounds - have been taken from the generous donations they worked so hard to fund-raise.

This is a fantastic win for Sponsor Refugees, community sponsorship groups, and our partners, who have challenged the government about these costs.

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Latest Welcome - Syrian Family Of Four Come to Camden, London

Hampstead Churches Greet Family at The AirportLatest news from newsletter of Hampstead Churches Together:

After just over a year of hard work, the Hampstead Churches Community Sponsorship Group are overjoyed to announce that on 25th September we welcomed our first refugee family under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

The process has been long and challenging and has involved at various ways some 200 parishioners have provided expertise or financial support.

Finding suitable property is London was probably the biggest challenge. Early on in the process, two generous landlords agreed to let their central London flat to the Family at the Housing Benefit rate.

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Sponsored Families Thriving Across the Country

The Alamary Family at Community Sponsorship Awards 2018The Alamary Family

How would a family that had fled war torn Syria respond to life in a quiet rural part of England?  In the case of the Alamary family the answer is: amazingly well.

They were warmly welcomed by the group in Georgeham in North Devon, but the key to success is the attitude of the Alamary family themselves.

They have rapidly moved through 3 levels of ESOL training from beginner to advanced.  

Within 4 months of arriving, Mahmoud Alamary secured a job with a building firm who are supporting him through an apprenticeship to become a qualified electrician.

Khadija, who is the most wonderful cook, has not only offered warm and generous hospitality, but has taught others how to cook Syrian dishes and helped with the catering at local events.

The three children have settled into school well.

The family have also thrown themselves into English village life – taking part in everything from bell-ringing to beekeeping.  

On top of all this, the Alamary family have supported other Syrian families who have settled in Devon providing both hospitality, encouragement, advice and support.

They are also exceptional advocates and supporters of the Community Sponsorship Scheme, speaking at local events, encouraging other sponsorship groups and advising prospective sponsors.

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"One of the most rewarding experiences of my whole life"

Guest Blog by Sean Ryan, MBE, National Caritas Community Sponsorship Coordinator

Frank and Barbara McNamara at Community Sponsorship Awards 2018

On 12th June 2018, the Catholic parish of St Mary of the Assumption in Burnley became the second Salford parish to welcome a refugee family through sponsorship.

 St Mary’s achieved this with a considerably smaller Sponsorship Group than most, in a comparatively deprived area, thanks to the leadership of one man, their Project Manager Frank McNamara MBE, a retired civil servant.

Because of Frank, the Group won over an initially circumspect Local Authority, raised all the necessary funds and partnered with Calico Housing Association to secure a lovely home in a quiet suburb of Burnley, all within the space of five months. The many agencies with whom Frank built such positive relationships have been unanimous in their praise for his outstanding qualities. 

Sadly, Frank’s had to step down from the project due to ill-health, less than a month after the family arrived in Burnley.  But this sponsorship is only happening because of the single-handed leadership, dogged determination, boundless stoicism, tireless relationship-building and exemplary conduct of Frank.

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Young Champions Commended for Welcoming Refugees

Guest blog by Bob Goldsmith of Muswell Hill Methodist Church Sponsorship Group

Arun supported the Ajaj family to give testimony at Citizens UK AssemblyAs a member of the community sponsorship group attached to Muswell Hill Methodist Church in North London, I know a lot of remarkable people have made a big contribution to our work, but brothers Arun, 13, and Jasso, 2, have played a special part.

Arun helped paint, decorate and prepare the house for the family. Before the family arrived, he also collected warm clothes, trainers and sportswear for the teenage boys. He then travelled to Gatwick to meet the family and helped them on the way home, giving out water bottles, blankets, snacks and helium balloons.

Later Arun taught the older boys numbers and the names of fruit and vegetables in English, while the older Syrian boys taught him the Arabic equivalents. Most significantly, Arun enabled the Syrian boys to speak at a Citizens' Assembly before a large audience.

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Inspirational Canadians Grace Awards Ceremony

Jim Estill has a strong claim to the single greatest refugee sponsor in the world.

Since 2015, he has sponsored more than 60 refugee families to come to his home town, Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where he is CEO of a major local business, Danby Appliances. Another 26 families are due to arrive in Guelph, thanks to Jim, before Christmas.

As well as devoting an enormous amount of time to this project, he employs many of the sponsored Syrians in his factory. He has also paid $1.5 million Canadian dollars from his own pocket to fund the sponsorships.

Jim is matter-of-fact about his amazing achievements. “I still don’t see what the big deal is. And I’m surprised more people don’t step up and do it”. He prefers private sponsorship to the government programme because, as he puts it, ‘you can’t hire friends’.

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