Once approved as a sponsor, you will be sent personal information about a refugee family that you will potentially support. It is critical that you read this information carefully and assess whether your group can accommodate the needs of the family.
Once your application is approved, it is then the Home Office’s role to identify a suitable family for your group to welcome. The Home Office will match you with a family referral, which your group and your Local Authority will then consider.
Your group and the Local Authority will be encouraged to confirm to the Home Office within five working days as to whether or not you can accommodate the proposed family. This step involves the Home Office giving you access to detailed and personal information about a family they believe to be suitable. This will help you decide whether you can meet the needs of the family that is allocated to you.
When you are considering the allocation of the refugee family, your group Lead and Lead Sponsor will be given access to a summary of the family’s details and history, and the family’s medical records. This information is extremely confidential and will contain the ages, genders, biographic information and medical details of the refugees you will be supporting. It is vital that this personal data is managed responsibly.
Factors to consider
For a match to be as successful as possible, it is very important that you read through all the information you receive about a family and dedicate time to carefully consider what their needs will be. With this information, you will need to assess if your group will have sufficient capacity and resources to support the family, and whether the area they’ll be moving into can cater for their needs.
Examples of factors you will need to consider at this stage include:
- What is the family’s level of English?
- Do they have any health problems, and can the area cater for specialist medical health treatment?
- Does the area have adequate public transport if the family will need to attend medical appointments on a regular basis?
- Do any members of the family have special educational needs?
Along with the day-to-day needs the family may have, it is also important to consider the long-term suitability of a match. This relates to their longer-term integration and ability to settle in an area and live independently. This can include factors such as the family’s employment background, potential future work or educational prospects.
If your group does not feel that you can accommodate a family’s needs, we would advise you to decline the referral. It is completely fine to say no. We understand that this is a difficult decision, but it is important to be realistic at this stage in order for matches to be as suitable as possible. If your group does decline a referral, the Home Office will endeavor to resettle the family through an alternative arrangement, and they will immediately work to find another match for your group.
Navigating the matching process
Given the significance of this stage of the Community Sponsorship process, we recognise making this decision can feel a little overwhelming, difficult and even draining. But giving yourself sufficient time to read through a family’s details and then the opportunity to discuss any concerns is really useful.
We spoke to Anais from Caritas Salford, a highly experienced Lead Sponsor organisation. Anais explained how Caritas Salford encourage the Community Sponsorship groups they are supporting to navigate this stage:
“Once a family referral has been made, we will call the group Lead to inform them that the details of a family are available to access on the MOVEit platform. We ask the group Lead to give themselves a day or two to read through the documents thoroughly. After that time, we will contact them again and ask if they have any specific concerns or issues about the referral.
If there are issues that need to be discussed, we will organise a meeting with the core members of the group. We do this to make sure the group has a basic idea of who the family is and discuss any specific needs that this family might have before formally accepting or declining the referral. At this stage, information is only shared on a need-to-know basis.
If a group is having doubts about accepting a family referral based on specific issues raised, we ask groups how would this family be better off somewhere else? Is it because the setting of this group is too rural, and they would find better support in urban areas? Or will they find the same challenges everywhere? If the family would face the same challenges everywhere, we would encourage the group to accept the family allocation. We also often speak to Reset with any concerns.
For example, on one occasion a rural-based Community Sponsorship group was allocated a family with multiple children with higher medical needs. Before accepting the referral, I met with the group to talk about these needs and if the family would be able to access the support they required should the group accept the referral.
After discussions, further research and asking how would this family be better off somewhere else, they found that the necessary support provisions were in fact available in the area close to where the group was based. The family would have to go through the same processes to access the support they needed wherever they went. Consequently, the group accepted the family referral.”
Listen to Anais’ full advice in the video below.
*Please note that the family interviews Anais mentions in the video are no longer conducted.