Community Sponsorship is a way in which groups and communities can come together to support the resettlement of refugees in their communities. Harnessing the skills, passion and knowledge of individuals you’ll be joining together to welcome a refugee family to your area. It is a big responsibility, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. For more details about the Community Sponsorship programme, please visit www.resetuk.org
Community Sponsorship requires a 12 month commitment from the time a family arrives for your group to provide support as the family begins to start life in the UK. In addition, you’ll be securing accommodation for them for 24 months.
What do we need to do?
- Form a group
- Partner with, or set up a Charity
- Secure suitable accommodation for 24 months
- Get the consent of your Local Authority & Safer Neighbourhoods Team
- Raise £9,000 and plan a budget
- Find out what you need to know to complete your application form
- Book an Application Workshop with Reset if you feel it would be useful
Submitting an application
You will submit your application directly to the Home Office Community Sponsorship team via email. You can download the form from the gov.uk website and we recommend saving a copy as you work on it.
Alongside your application, you will also submit your letter of consent from your Local Authority or Authorities, your Safeguarding policy, complaints policy and if you have funding in place already, a letter to confirm this from your Finance Lead (this may be your Treasurer).
Submitting for Approval-in-Principle
We know that finding accommodation is going to be one of the hardest parts of your application. The Home Office also recognise this, and as such, you are able to submit your application for approval-in-principle without a property, and with fundraising still to take place. The Home Office will consider your application, and once you have an in principle decision, you will then resubmit the completed application form with details about the property and a letter confirming you have £9,000 available to support a family, and full approval will be given. Please note that even for an in-principle decision, you must submit consent from your Local Authority/Authorities alongside your application form.
What happens next?
Once you have submitted your application form to the Home Office, you may receive feedback and questions aimed at clarifying your application in order for this to be considered.
Once all questions have been answered, the Home Office will be in contact with you and your Local Authority to arrange a Pre-Approval Visit (PAV). This can take some time to organise as getting everyone in a room at one time can be a challenge! This meeting is a brilliant opportunity to ask any questions, understand the process as well as continue to build your relationship with your Local Authority and many groups have reflected on what a positive experience this has been.
After the PAV, you may be asked to provide more information or clarification on your resettlement plan, and once these are in, the Home Office will go through the approvals process and security clearance checks required to approve your application.
Forms to complete
You’ll be sent a Property Offer Form (POF) this details the accommodation you have found and details about the local area. You’ll return this to the Home Office team who will share it with their Allocations Team – these are the people who will match a suitable family to be resettled in your area.
You’ll also be asked to complete a form for the MOVEit portal, which is how you will receive information about the family to be resettled in your community. It takes a lot of time to set up the secure connection for you, so this process will start early.
All being well, you will then receive approval to be a community sponsor – congratulations!
Signing your sponsor agreement
You’ll be asked to sign a sponsorship agreement between your group and the Home Office. You can find a template on the gov.uk website.
Being allocated a refugee family
You’ll then go through to an allocation process, where all families waiting to be resettled under the VPRS/VCRS are allocated to groups or local authorities who can provide the support and accommodation that they need. Once a suitable family is identified, you and your Local Authority will receive their details via MOVEit and it’s time to consider whether you can offer the support the family will require. It’s important to consider this carefully and you may find that you or your local authority will not be able to accommodate the family’s needs due to many reasons – please keep in mind that should this be the case, the family will still be resettled and if you do not feel able to support that particular family, it will not reflect on future allocations for your group.
Exit procedure for the refugee family
Once you and your Local Authority have accepted the family, and the family have confirmed that they are comfortable to be resettled in the UK and through Community Sponsorship, the exit procedure for that family will begin. It will take between 6-12 weeks for the family to arrive. During that time, the family will receive pre-departure medical and health checks and receive cultural awareness training about life in the UK. You will be asked to provide a 1-page document introducing your group and area, which will be given to the family – you’ll need to provide this in English as well as the language spoken by the family.
You and your Local Authority be given a scheduled arrival date and time to prepare for collecting the family at the airport. You are encouraged to ask as many questions as you need to through the Home Office Case Officer, who you will be introduced to as part of your approval as a community sponsor.
The support you will provide to a family will last for a 12 month period, with accommodation provided for 24 months. As part of your sponsor agreement, you will usually be asked to:
- Ensure the family receive their Biometric Residence Permits as soon as the cards arrive
- Ensure children are registered in school as soon as possible (usually within 2 weeks of arrival)
- Support attendance at your local Job Centre for benefit assessment (usually within 3 days of arrival)
- Assist with the registration with your local GP (usually within 1 week of arrival)
- Ensure adult family members receive 8 hours of ESOL provision per week for a 12 month period (usually within 1 month of arrival)
- Participate in monitoring and evaluation activities, including home visits with the Home Office throughout the 12 months of your sponsorship agreement
Support is available throughout the application and resettlement process is available for all groups. Please contact Reset if you need further information or support at any point.