Published: 17 Nov 2021  |  Category: Application process  |  Stage: We are getting started

Partnering with a Lead Sponsor

Working with a Lead Sponsor is all about working in partnership, here are some things for groups to consider when exploring this

Your Community Sponsorship application must be made by Lead Sponsor Organisation.  The organisation must be a charity, community interest company or an exempt charity registered with the appropriate body in the relevant nation of the UK.  There are many experienced Lead Sponsors who have a process and a system in which your group could operate, or you may think about approaching an organisation who have not been involved before.   They could open up new networks to you, connect you with individuals and organisations who may be able to assist you and share their knowledge with you.  This page is intended to help groups explore having a conversation with an organisation. If you work in an organisation who has been asked to be a Lead Sponsor, you can access support in our Lead Sponsor Toolkit

Find an experienced Lead Sponsor organisation 

Many groups have found the simplest and easiest way to apply for Community Sponsorship is to approach an organisation who have already supported Community Sponsorship applications and families.  You can find active Lead Sponsor organisations here

Working with an existing organisation

The organisation you ask to support your application will be taking on the direct responsibility for the sponsorship agreement, and they will be the ones to sign the sponsor agreement with the Home Office, even if your group are providing the day-to-day and direct support to the refugee family. If they take on this responsibility they will be referred to as the Lead Sponsor for the group. They will take this responsibility incredibly seriously so you should expect to work very closely with them and they may ask for your group to do things in a specific way or follow their policies or register as a volunteer with them; this will ensure that they are managing the risk to their organisation as well as meeting their obligations.  If you are ever in doubt of what is expected of you, please speak to your Lead Sponsor as soon as possible.  As a group, you should discuss and decide whether you are happy to work within the parameters and policies that your Lead Sponsor requires of you. 

Finding an existing organisation to partner with

Through the networks that members of your group will have access to, you may already have a charity in mind to work with; this could be an organisation already active in Community Sponsorship, a charity who work in your community or a place of worship.  Before you approach an organisation to ask if they will be your Lead Sponsor, ensure that you are clear on the obligations that will be placed on them. 

You could also find an organisation who work in your area or you may want to approach charities who have worked with vulnerable people or directly with refugees, as they may have services and networks who will be able to assist your group in writing your application and delivering support to refugees.

Partnering with an organisation

Creating a partnership takes time, and you should work to establish an open and positive working relationship.  Remember that the contact at the organisation with whom you are partnering is likely to be as busy as you are and will be working with you in addition to other work and activities so do be patient for responses when you are in conversation about your plans. 

Each organisation will work with you in a different way. Some will expect to work very closely with you, and ask you to register as a volunteer with them and support you in completing your application. Others will take a more hands-off approach, and simply want to check that your plans are up to their standards and do not conflict with their policies, procedures or values. Speak to the organisation you are thinking of working with to understand how they expect the relationship to work, and agree as a group if you happy with this. You may want or need to establish a memorandum of understanding between you and your Lead Sponsor.  Reset do have templates available on request.  

Keep in mind that the organisation with whom you partner will be checking your plans and it will be they who will have to sign sponsor agreements with the Home Office, and will be assuming overall responsibility for the work that you will carry out. This will be a big decision for them and they may need time for your request to be considered.  Make sure they have all the information that they need to reach a decision in supporting your plans. 

Things to think about when partnering with an organisation

As every Community Sponsorship group is different, so is each organisation, so no situation will be exactly the same.  Here we have shared some questions you may wish to think about or ask when you establish you are going to partner with:

  • Will the organisation require all or some of your group to register as a volunteer with them? This could be for insurance, safeguarding or policy reasons 
  • Does the organisation ask you to pay a fee for their services? This might cover staff time, DBS/Disclosure checks or other costs incurred by them
  • When you are putting together your application, how involved does your Lead Sponsor want to be? Do they want to be included in the planning for this, or discuss it when your group have decided what they can offer in order to check that they are happy with your plans?
  • How will you work with the Lead Sponsor to deliver your support? 
  • How will you or your Lead Sponsor raise concerns about the group or family you support? 
  • You’ll need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funding available before a family arrive with you.  Will this be held and restricted by the organisation or are they comfortable with you holding this money? Remember that they will need to confirm to the Home Office that this money is available to you
  • If the money you fundraise will be held and restricted for your group’s purpose by the organisation, discuss how you will access this for initial payments to the refugees and to support ongoing costs