The Catholic Parishes Helping Refugees Rebuild Lives in UK

Dozens of Catholic parishes throughout the country have become involved in helping vulnerable refugees find sanctuary and rebuild their lives in the UK.

Of more than 160 groups in the UK that are involved in the government's Community Sponsorship Scheme, about a third, or 50, are Catholic parishes in England and Wales. And about a third of these parishes have already welcomed families.

Catholic News Journal, The Tablet, has followed their journey here.

Sponsored refugee opens his own restaurant in Manchester

Samir Hamyeh’s story should serve as an inspiration to refugees welcomed to Britain through Community Sponsorship.  Samir, a Syrian, arrived with his family in Flixton, East Manchester in November 2016.  The Hamyehs were only the second family to be sponsored and they were warmly welcomed by volunteers from St Monica’s Roman Catholic church. 

Both in Syria and later in Lebanon, Samir had worked in the catering industry, including running and owning his own restaurants. Within a few months of arriving in the UK, he was volunteering in a kitchen that served food to homeless people and destitute asylum seekers, and he went on to find paid jobs in local restaurants across Manchester.  But Samir’s dream was to open his own restaurant so that he could build a more secure future for his growing family. 

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"Community Sponsorship at it's Best" - Tynside Welcomes Launch

Written by Bekele Woyecha

I had the privilege of travelling to Tyneside on Saturday 23rd March to join the launch of Tyneside Welcomes. I thought it was a long journey on a weekend. Oh my God, it was worth it. It felt like I was among my extended family - Tyneside Welcomes. Amazing people gathered for a great cause. Folks doing something practical and worthwhile whilst enjoying themselves through the process. People of different generations gathered creating a real buzz and adding to the razzmatazz.  What else can we ask from Community Sponsorship?

I at times travel both around the UK and abroad; and there is a topic I raise when I meet friends and colleagues. It is nothing but about Community Sponsorship of refugees and what it means for me. What my role is in this and my passion for this great scheme and what I would have loved to achieve years and decades from now. For me, it is all about leaving a long-lasting legacy.

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BBC Documentary Follows Community Sponsorship

Guest blog by Anna Roderick

It was a boiling hot summer’s day. We’d come to Sidmouth to meet a BBC crew and we sheltered in the shade of some trees to discuss the day’s filming. The plan was to produce a 10 minute film about ABIDE, a community sponsorship group, and the Syrian refugee family it supports. We were starting with some footage of Hani, the dad, doing work experience with a local gardener. The setting, in the grounds of a manor house on cliffs above the sea, couldn’t have been more idyllic.

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"Where the Countryside Meets the Sea"

Hythe is a small, sleepy, seaside town on the Kent-Coast with a population of around 14,000. Whilst the town slogan of, ‘where the countryside meets the sea’ makes it a honeypot for retirees and tourists alike, its proximity to the English Channel also meant that from time to time the unfolding refugee crisis has been brought to its doorstep.

‘You can see Northern France from our beach’, reports Callum McKenna of Hythe Salvation Army. ‘This, along with scores of individuals making it through the Channel Tunnel to the Motorway Service station at the top of Hythe really brought the Migrant Crisis into focus for local residents, particularly during the increased media attention the issue received in 2015. Local churches, groups and individuals rallied together to collect clothing and toiletries for those just miles away from us in the so-called ‘Jungle’. There was a vigil for Alan Kurdi, the Syrian Toddler whose lifeless body washed up on the shores of Turkey. People began to volunteer and raise funds for a local charity working with unaccompanied minors. There was a real desire to respond to this crisis as a community. At the same time, there was a growing sense that a lot of these activities felt like putting plasters on a deep wound and that we wanted to do something that could make a lasting impact for those effected by the horrors we saw on our news screens in Syria.’

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'Life is good': Syrian family's new life in remote Welsh town

Photo Credit Richard Jones for the GuardianGuardian journalist Stephen Morris has written the latest in a series of articles following the new life of the Batak Family in Wales. The family were welcomed by Croeso Arberth community sponsorship group in 2017, with support from Citizens Cymru Wales.

Morris won an award at Community Sponsorship Awards 2018 for his fantastic championship of the scheme.

Read the article here

(Photograph: Richard Jones for the Guardian)


Grandfather to run Yorkshire Three Peaks for refugees

Veteren runner Chris Beesley from Settle celebrated his 67th birthday by taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

In so doing, he has raised a whopping £1240 for ReSETTLEment Community Sponsorship group, to help bring a refugee family from Syria to come and live in Yorkshire.

The thought of people being forced and bombed out of their homes is abhorrent, and I asked myself, what can I do," he said.

"I can run and raise money so that a family from a refugee camp can be given the chance and all the help they will need to start a new life here in Settle”.

Read the full article in The Craven Herald

Click here to donate. To volunteer to help out with the group email: 


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: 

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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