In order to be approved by the Home Office as a Community Sponsorship group, your application must be made through a registered charity or community interest company (CIC). This organisation will be your Lead Sponsor. The charity must be registered with the Charities Commission in England and Wales, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in Scotland, or the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland. This ensures that the organisation that is taking on the responsibility of resettling a refugee family is well governed, clearly structured and has been subjected to due diligence checks. There’s a couple of ways that you can choose to approach this:
Setting up a Charity
When setting up a Charity, you will need to appoint Trustees who will take the overall responsibility for the governance of your organisation. You will also need to create a governance document, agree to submitting annual accounts, and ensure that your charitable activities are for public benefit.
It is absolutely crucial that you demonstrate public benefit in your charity application. There have been instances in England and Wales where groups registering as a charity have had their applications rejected because they only talked about the impact that their group would have on the one family that they were resettling, and this was not considered to be sufficient. We recommend that you think more broadly about the impact that your group could have. Of course you will have an impact on the family (or families!) you support, but at Reset we also hear a lot about how groups forming has helped to bring diverse communities together, establish friendships and strengthen support networks. Please do contact Reset if you are looking for examples of the impact that community sponsorship can have.
England and Wales
The Charity Commission authorises and regulates charities in England and Wales. They provide guidance for groups who wish to establish themselves as a charity and their website will guide you through the process:
The OSCR has a very helpful Charity Test for groups looking to become a charity. As with England and Wales, you will need to demonstrate a clear public and charitable benefit. For more information, visit the OSCR website
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has provided details on how to register as a charity: You must ensure that your activities are exclusively charitable in nature.
Setting up as a CIC
To do this, you will need to apply to Companies House and draw up a Community Interest Statement setting out what you plan to do. You’ll also need to create an asset lock, which is a written, legal promise outlining that the activity carried out will be for the benefit of the community and setting limits on the money that can be paid out to shareholders.
You will apply to the CIC regulator. The regulator is responsible for approving your application. Community Sponsorship Groups are increasingly looking at CIC status for their application, find out more about this process on our website.
Support for Lead Sponsors
If you are starting your journey as a Lead Sponsor Organisation, Reset are here to assist. We organise the Lead Sponsor Network which brings organisations together. and also administer the Community Sponsorship Backstop Fund - a source of support and funding for Lead Sponsor Organisations in the event that a challenge arises when supporting a refugee family.