9 award winners have been recognised by senior figures including Canada’s Deputy Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Catrina Tapley, UNHCR representative in London, Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor and Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham.
The Community Sponsorship Awards, organised by Sponsor Refugees, were co-presented by BBC personality Claudia Hammond, and Hani, one of the first Syrian Refugees to be settled by the scheme in the UK. They marked a special moment to reflect and celebrate some of the work done since the Refugee Welcome movement first shone a light on the refugee crisis. Since that time a groundswell of support helped bring thousands of people to safety.
Community groups from across the UK have been recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in Trafalgar Square for their pioneering work to bring refugee families through the government’s Community Sponsorship scheme – a way ordinary people can privately sponsor refugee families to find new lives in the UK, free from the horrors of conflict.
Around 200 community sponsorship groups have now formed around the UK, and 400 refugees have been settled since the scheme launched, with more families arriving through sponsorship on an almost weekly basis.
The glittering Community Sponsorship awards ceremony was hosted by the Canadian High Commission in London. Canada introduced Private Sponsorship of refugees 40 years ago - since then 7 million Canadians have welcomed over 325,000 refugees. They been instrumental in guiding the UK and other nations as we build our own refugee sponsorship schemes.
Hani, who was settled by the ABIDE Community Sponsorship group in Devon and co-presented the awards said:
“We didn't know anything about the UK, but when we arrived the ABIDE Community Sponsorship group welcomed us like family. ABIDE helped to take my children to school and they helped me and my wife Amneh to learn English. It was a huge welcome.”
Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:
“What an inspirational evening this has been, packed with stories of remarkable people doing good in the world. These are difficult and divided times, but Community Sponsorship is one of those civic activities, that doesn’t hit the headlines, but which shows humanity at its best.”
Tim Finch, Director Sponsor Refuges, the Citizens Foundation for Community Sponsorship, which organised the awards:
“Sponsor Refugees relies on thousands of quiet heroes from all walks of life, the inspiring winners from this year’s award shows that the proud British tradition of welcoming refugees is alive and well.”
Nominees and winners of the Community Sponsorship awards 2018 were:
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Alison Watt, Haddenham Syrian Family Project, Buckinghamshire - winner
Erica Brooks, Refugee Sponsorship Edinburgh, Scotland
Sebit Nal, The Welcome Committee, London
YOUNG CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
Bea Forrester, Peckham Sponsors Refugees & Rushholme Sponsors Refugees (winner)
Mouteb Ajaj, London
Pupils of Queen’s College, Taunton, Somerset
LOCAL AUTHORITY OF THE YEAR
Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council, Wales (winner)
East Lindsey Council, Lincolnshire
NEW COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP GROUP OF THE YEAR
Croeso Menai, North Wales (winner)
Greenlanes Mosque, Birmingham
Merton Schools, London
Refugee ReSETTLEment Community Sponsorship Group, Yorkshire
CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
Alaa Khattab, London (winner)
Eva Jonsson, London
Vicky Moller, Wales
PARTNERSHIP OF THE YEAR (CELEBRATING ALLIANCES & COMMUNITY COHESION)
Abraham’s Tent Community Sponsorship Project, London
Croeso Roath Cathays, Wales
Old Swan Welcomes, Liverpool (winner)
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Hatem Al-Janabi, London
Samir Hamyeh, Manchester (winner)
Samer Khaled Karob, London
(Images: (c) Ian Brodie / Sponsor Refugees)