Over the time you support a family, your relationship will change as they become independent. Explore how you can prepare for this.
When we train Community Sponsorship groups prior to the arrival of a family, we talk to groups about the end of their support. This might feel strange, and we’re not going to tell you that your relationship with a family is purely transactional, but it is important to start planning the changing nature of your support early. This resource is aimed at helping you to prepare for the practical changes that will happen over the time you support the family.
Community Sponsorship is, at its essence, about a group of individuals helping a family to navigate life in a new country. Independence is crucial to achieving integration, and as a group, you need to be comfortable with family members making their own choices and doing things alone, even if you don’t quite agree with them!
In your Sponsor Agreement, it stipulates that you will produce an exit strategy for the end of the 12 month sponsor agreement – this doesn’t need to be a formal document but rather, an outline of what you will and won’t be doing. It’s important that you think this through as a group and are consistent about how you approach this. We recommend that you look to have your exit strategy ready in month six after arrival at the latest. Make sure you speak to your Lead Sponsor about any changes they will need to make through your support.
We should be clear that an exit strategy does not necessarily mean an end to the relationship you have developed with the family, just a change from a formal relationship. Some groups have found this change deepen and strengthen their relationships with a family, others that the family they support have found the end of the sponsor relationship a helpful marker for their first year in the UK. There is no standard way of doing this, but this guide aims to help you think through what you need to put in place to prepare you and the family for the end of the sponsor agreement. You might find it more useful to think of this as a transition planning exercise.
Starting your exit/transition planning
Speak to all members of your Community Sponsorship group and ask:
- What are we doing for/with the family?
- Are there any accounts or services we still have access to on behalf of the family?
- Are there tasks you still carry out that you will not have capacity to do in future?
Work through together why you are doing these things, and question if you could you come away from them. Ask yourselves whether you do these things because you want to or because it’s necessary.
Once you are clear on what everyone is doing, we recommend sitting down with adult family members, together where appropriate to talk through what you are still doing, and asking what they want you to do. Ask:
- Do they know you are doing these things?
- What would they like you to stop doing? What do they still need help with?
Using the table attached, explain what each task involves. For example, when the family first arrived, you will likely have helped them to make GP appointments, however, with triaging systems in GP surgeries it may require you to know the medical condition of a family member, something which is private.
Things to keep in mind:
- The role of your Lead Sponsor may change at the end of year one – make sure you know what this means to you and your group.
- The family you support will most likely still be in the property you sourced for a further year. What help will you still provide?
- Integration doesn’t just happen, it’s an ongoing process.
- You will have outlined how you planned to empower the family in your application form. Revisit this – have you done all you thought you would?
- You may have started the process with a code of conduct for your group. Is it still valid? Does it need reviewing? Work with your Lead Sponsor on any reviews you have on this.
- The family you support should be absolutely central to any planning you are doing. What are their goals and ambitions? Can your group assist in these? Do the family want to continue to have contact with you?
Communicating the end of the Sponsor Agreement
It’s essential that you communicate any changes to the family you support. Some things may change a great deal. It could be that you will stop paying for an internet connection, or that you are able to do things together as a friend. Whatever changes, this should not be a surprise to the family you support.
Remember that this is just a guide, the family you support are unique, as is the support you offer, and this resource is just a guide of what to think through as you are planning your exit strategy.
Keeping the above points in mind, think through your unique situation and the family you support.
- What might they need continued support with?
- Is there any support you would be willing to continue to offer?
- Is there anything that you could stop doing that will help them to achieve independence in some areas?
Meet as a group and talk through how you see your support changing after year one and also meet with the family to see how they would like to see your support going forward.
Do get in touch with Reset if you need support. We can help your group think through your plans for the future.