Working with an existing charity to support your application to be a community sponsor is a great way to offer the very best to the refugees you will support. The charity 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. Our guide outlines some of the things you could think about when considering whether this is what you would like to do.
Working with an existing charity
The charity you partner with 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 the charity 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 partner charity 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.
If the charity you partner with are doing this for the first time, they too may need assistance and support through the process, please do highlight that Reset can offer them this support.
Finding an existing charity 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 a charity to ask if they will be your Lead Sponsor, ensure that you are clear on the obligations that will be placed on them.
There are an increasing number of charities who have acted as Lead Sponsor for multiple Community Sponsorship Groups, many of whom are part of the Lead Sponsor Network - do think about approaching these organisation or ask Reset for information on which Lead Sponsors are operating in your area.
You could also find a charity who work in your area on the Charity Commission’s Charity Register 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 a charity
Creating a partnership takes time, just like any working relationship, and you should ensure that you are in regular contact with your Lead Sponsor once you have agreed you will work together, making sure to liaise regularly with your Local Authority. Remember that the contact at the Charity 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 charity will work with you in a different way. Some will expect to work very closely with you, may ask you to register as a volunteer with them and support you in completing your application and resettlement plan. 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 charity 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. One sponsor group and partner charity have shared their Memorandum of Understanding with us, which may be useful for you to adapt if you are working in this way.
Keep in mind that the Charity 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 the charity and they may need time for your request to be considered, which is likely to be at Trustee level. 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 a charity
As every Community Sponsorship group is different, so is each charity, 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 an existing charity:
- Will the charity require you to register as a volunteer with them? This could be for insurance, safeguarding or policy reasons. Make sure that everyone in your group, or those you recruit are aware that they will need to do this if it is the case
- When you are putting together your resettlement plan, 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 to sign this off?
- How will you work with the Lead Sponsor to deliver your resettlement plan?
- 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 charity 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 charity, discuss how you will access this for initial payments to the refugees and to support ongoing costs
Groups have told us that the assistance and support that they have received from charities who support their applications has opened up networks, been able to provide advice and support to sponsor groups.