For Community Sponsorship Groups who will be welcoming in early 2021, it's important to understand how your sponsor obligations will have changed. As you know, the Home Office outline times and ways of working they would like you to follow, we've asked them to confirm their expectations for the families you will welcome.
You do not need a male and female interpreter at the airport - one will be sufficient, this will change for all CS Groups from now on
Appointment with the Job Centre
The family can do this completely online, do ensure that the DWP provide the interpreter for any phone or online appointments
Initial 'cash' payment
This can be provided via a pre-pay debit card or cash or a combination of the two - it's up to you. You should discuss with the family who will hold the money for the children in advance. Providing top ups weekly can assist with budgeting until benefits are received. Pre-pay debit cards are available however, they may not be able to be set up until the family arrive, or have to be set up in the name of your organisation or an individual in your group initially. This might provide you access to how money is spent by the family, if this is unavoidable, ensure that the family are aware of this and how you will handle this information.
Wherever possible, all adults should receive 8 hours of ESOL classes per week within the first month of arrival. Having these online is acceptable.
It may not be possible to register children in schools within the two week time scale specified given coronavirus restrictions, however, the Home Office ask that you help the family to register their children in school as soon as possible.
If you are unsure on any of your obligations as a Community Sponsorship Group, please don't hesitate to contact the Reset Team.
In Community Sponsorship, you will have requirements and obligations between the organisation acting as Lead Sponsor and the Home Office, which will be outlined in your sponsor agreement. You can see a sample sponsor agreement on gov.uk, however, you should ensure that you read your sponsor agreement carefully prior to signing it, and ask your Home Office contact if you have any queries relating to this.
Lead Sponsor Organisations provide the framework and ways in which a Community Sponsorship Group will operate but they may not be the person delivering on the ground support to a family once they arrive.
Charities or CICs who act as Lead Sponsor to Community Sponsorship Groups are welcome to join the Lead Sponsor Network, a place to share best practice, ideas and challenges with other Lead Sponsors across the UK. It’s free to join the network and you’ll receive regular updates on the latest developments in Community Sponsorship.
Length of support
You will provide one year (12 months) of formal integration support to a refugee family, although you can choose to extend this support. You must provide sustainable, affordable accommodation for 2 years (24 months) from the date of the family arriving in the UK.
Welcome to the UK
Aim: Resettled family members feel welcome in the UK and are able to quickly acclimatise to living in the UK.
Sponsorship Groups are required to:
- meet and greet arriving family at the relevant airport and escort them to their accommodation, briefing them on how to use the amenities;
- provide a welcome pack of groceries, the content of which should take into account the culture and nationality of the resettled family
- provide £200 per person (adults and children) in cash on arrival for initial expenses including groceries, toiletries, clothes, and ensure the family have sufficient funds to live on while their claim for benefits is being processed (e.g. for a family of five the sponsor would provide £1,000);
- provide information and support to access local shops, services, and transport.
Read our advice on planning for arrivals
Establishing a Life in the UK
Aim: Resettled family are empowered to make a life for themselves and integrate in the UK, through accessing community activities, medical care, language skills, education and employment.
Sponsorship Groups are required to:
- ensure resettled family members receive their Biometric Residence Permits within 1 day of receiving the BRPs;
- provide assistance with registering children with local schools as soon as possible – commencing prior to arrival and concluding registration no later than 2 weeks after arrival;
- provide interpreting services, as required, for 12 months from arrival;
- arrange for English language tuition for adults as soon as possible and within one month of arrival;
- provide formal English language tuition by a suitably qualified ESOL teacher, for a minimum of 8 hours per week for the first 12 months;
- make provisions for formal English language tuition to be supplemented on a regular basis by less formal conversational English;
- monitor progress of each individual and aim for at least one ESOL level of progress (in speaking and listening, reading, and writing) over the course of the year;
- provide the opportunity to obtain an English language qualification at the appropriate level, where this will support access to employment and education;
- support attendance at local Job Centre appointments for benefit assessments, within three days of arrival;
- assist with registration with a local GP, within one week of arrival;
- advise on accessing appropriate mental health services and specialist services for victims of torture as appropriate;
- provide assistance with access to employment and education, including development of a curriculum vitae;
- provide assistance with accessing digital services;
- make aware of, and support attendance at, local community activities, within and without the sponsoring organisation, such as children’s playgroups, coffee mornings, local clubs, local events, etc.
Read our advice on:
- Registering with schools
- Language Needs
- Accessing healthcare
- Understanding trauma
- Accessing employment
- Finding other organisations in your area who can help
Aim: Resettled family has a home in which to settle in the UK, with adequate space and facilities to live in comfort.
Sponsorship Groups are required to:
- source suitable and sustainable accommodation, available for use by the resettled family for a minimum period of two years.
The accommodation must:
- be available to the resettled family at a cost that is affordable and sustainable, taking into account the social welfare income the family will receive
- have independent access and provide adequate privacy
- comply with local authority guidance on occupation levels
- be in a proper state of structural repair and maintained throughout in a good state of repair
- have safe electricity and/or gas supplies, and with adequate ventilation and lighting
The property should be appropriately furnished with:
- an appropriate number and type of beds
- a toilet, a washbasin and a fixed bath or shower with hot and cold water
- a fixed heating appliance in each room, which is capable of providing effective heating and which the tenant can control
- facilities for cooking and for the hygienic preparation and storage of food (for example, a 4-ring hob with oven and grill, fridge-freezer, microwave oven, and kitchen sink)
- access to washing facilities (e.g. a washing machine or nearby launderette)
- access to facilities to dry clothes (e.g. outdoor clothes line or indoor clothes/drying rack)
- a fire blanket and smoke alarms (including a carbon monoxide alarm where appropriate)
Sponsorship Groups must provide:
- assistance with registration with utility companies and making sure arrangements are made for payment (no pre-pay/card accounts)
- information to the resettled persons on the accommodation, health and safety, and an emergency contact point
Record Keeping and Privacy
You must keep records and copies of the resettled family’s key documents, including their UNHCR registration, Entry clearance document, their Biometric Residence Permit, National Insurance number and NHS number. You must ensure that data is held securely, in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation. Maintaining the privacy of the resettled family is important and you must:
- not issue anything that identifies the resettled family externally as refugees
- get informed consent from the resettled family in relation to any proposed media exposure, requests or interest.
Monitoring and Evaluation
You will be required to provide relevant information to the Home Office on request to support monitoring and evaluation of your sponsorship arrangement and the wider sponsorship scheme.
Post Arrival Support Meetings, organised by Reset and which include Home Office and Local Authority attendance, will be carried out. Reset will provide interpreters for these visits.