The Story of St Monica’s in Manchester
Train delays meant Sean Ryan almost missed the first ever parliamentary meeting on refugee sponsorship held at the House of Lords in March 2016.
But eventually he made it to Westminster and inspired by what he heard he returned to his Catholic church in East Manchester and urged his fellow parishioners to become a sponsoring group.
The 25 members of the group ranged from a local business owner to an elderly pensioner. Between them they found accommodation, furnished the house, wrote a settlement plan, submitted an application to the Home Office and were approved as a sponsoring group.
In November 2016, St Monica’s were the first Community Sponsorship group to welcome a family to the UK. The Hamweh family had spent four and a half years in Lebanon after fleeing Syria.
The story of Abide in Devon
In the summer of 2015, Anna Roderick saw a picture in a newspaper of four Syrian children huddled together, exhausted and scared, as they fled from the war.
“I found myself unable to tear my gaze away from their faces”, Anna says.
It led her to contact friends and neighbours in Ottery St Mary, a small market town in rural Devon, to suggest that they club together and try to house a refugee family in their town.
Within a year, the group Anna formed, Abide, were welcoming the Arnaout family, Hani, Amneh and their young children Noor and Abdul, through the Community Sponsorship groups.
Now the Arnaouts are happily settled in Ottery St Mary, Hani is working, the children are doing well at school and nursery and Amneh has given birth to another child, Mary, named in honour of the people of their new home town, which has made them so welcome
The Story of Croeso Arberth in Pembrokeshire
Christine Hughes was finding it hard to sleep in her home in Narberth. The trouble was that she couldn’t stop thinking about refugees who had nowhere comfy or safe to sleep.
It was those sleepless nights which led Christine to help form Croeso Arberth and to encourage the group in the small Welsh town to get involved in sponsorship.
A core group of 12 did most of the work to make an application and prepare for the arrival of a refugee family. But in all, more than 100 people, in a town of just 2,400, were involved in some way.
In July 2017, a seven-strong family from Syria who had been living precariously in Egypt were greeted at the airport and brought back to their new home in Pembrokeshire.
The Story of Frank McNamara in Lancashire
"In June this year a young family of four moved to my hometown of Burnley, in Lancashire. This family were unlike any other who had moved to our town in recent years; they arrived from Syria because our church parishes, St Mary of the Assumption and Christ the King sponsored their arrival through the government’s ‘Community Sponsorship Scheme’.
Community sponsorship allows local groups of volunteers to take the lead responsibility for welcoming and supporting a refugee family. It’s a safe and legal method of bringing vulnerable refugees to the UK from camps in the Middle East.
The family who came to the UK with our sponsorship is a family of four: two young parents and, at the time of arrival, a two-year-old and a baby of four months. They were enthusiastic about starting their new life, and open to all the new security and safety that their new life would bring.
The Story of Mouteb in North London
12-year old Mouteb Ajaj arrived in the UK in March 2018 when his family was welcomed by the Community Sponsorship group in Muswell Hill, North London.
He had never been to school, and but he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Speaking at an event in the Houses of Parliament, in front of MPs and members of Community Sponsorship groups from across London, he said: "The most important thing for me is that I felt very welcome straight away. I felt part of the community already. When I went to school, everyone was so friendly. I didn't feel like the 'foreign' kid".
Mouteb is aiming high academically, as he revealed at the Community Sponsorship Awards in October 2018 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.