Community Sponsorship Groups have been welcoming families to the UK during Covid restrictions. For all current arrivals, family members are having to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. Whilst this does present logistical challenges for groups, they have risen to the challenge and here we share the common challenges that have been raised and how groups have overcome these.
When you wrote your resettlement plan, thinking through how you would provide support to a newly resettled family, it’s highly unlikely you imagined a situation where you might not be able to spend time with the family, or would have to do so in a socially distanced way.
Whilst no group or family are the same, and there isn’t a blue print of how to resettle refugees during a global pandemic, here we provide some helpful guidance and links to further resources. This includes information on how some groups welcomed families before the first lockdown and provides some tips on adapting your support.
All Groups welcoming families should have received an FAQ from the Home Office. If you have not received this, please get in contact.
Flexibility is going to be crucial as you support a family, and being able to respond to change will be key. Reset are always here to assist you, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact if we can assist. You should always conform to current legislations and restrictions in your area.
- Think about the IT support and devices you will need to provide to a family who will be self-isolating: The resource on Accessing digital services includes information on IT support via remote access.
- Healthcare considerations for those self-isolating on arrival: The resource on Covid-19 and arrival planning includes the latest Public Health England recommendations for safer refugee resettlement.
- Preparing property for those self-isolating on arrival: The Preparing Accommodation resource includes further suggestions on how to support families.
- Providing information on Covid restrictions and self-isolation in your Welcome Pack
- Communicating with the family following arrival: This resource includes advice on building relationships using online resources
- Understand the changes to your sponsor obligations: The Sponsor Obligations and Requirements page is a substantial resource for groups welcoming families in 2021
Welcoming families: learning from arrivals
- Once the Biometric Residency Permits (BRPs) have arrived, you are asked to return the paper Visa the family entered the UK on (the Form for Affixing the Visa - FAV). You may find the family also have other paperwork which includes their passenger locator form - this does not need returning.
- There have been long delays on coming through immigration - be prepared to wait after IOM texts you to say that the family have landed
- Families arriving have been exhausted on arrival - keep the information you provide on arrival to the minimum and don't expect everything to be remembered
- The Police are carrying out spot checks on travellers arriving into the UK to confirm that they are adhering to the self-isolation period, so the family may be visited. Make them aware that this could happen and take time to explain the role of the police in the UK
- Whilst it may be necessary for house visits to be carried out during the self isolation period, keep your visits brief and only as needed in both the property and nearby. The families' new neighbours may not be as understanding as to why it is ok for them to have visits when everyone in the UK is being asked to abide by lockdown rules. Always ask yourself if a visit is needed.
- Benefits registration appointments are taking place by phone. It's highly advisable to have a member of your Group available on the calls to provide context and follow up on things the adults in the family might not understand. Whilst Job Centres do provide an interpreter, they will be following a script and will not be explaining why they are asking what they need to know.
- The Public Health Service, working on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration, will telephone all travellers arriving in the UK. As your Group will have put forward a phone number where the family will be able to be reached, this is the number that is used. If you receive such a call, explain that you are acting on behalf of the family who do not speak English, and you can pass on information. This should be sufficient for their checks; there is no need for you to update Passenger Locator Forms with a phone number for the family. Groups have told us that they have received a lot of calls to check the family have been self-isolating - the callers can sometimes use the middle names of family members so do be prepared to check the information you are being asked for.
- When Covid tests are returned post arrival, the paperwork will provide a reference number that can be put into the Test and Trace app. The family members you support are not obliged to download the app unless they wish to do so.
Review your safeguarding procedures
Read our Safeguarding Briefing with a section dedicated to Covid-19.
Key activities/areas to help the family you support to focus on
- GP surgeries, dentists and hospitals have restrictions on attending appointments, and some surgeries will stop the registration of new patients in person. Speak to the surgery about steps to follow to register new patients. Explain to the family that access to healthcare may be more restricted than usual.
- Many Groups have found that empowering the family to gain IT skills is more important than ever as ESOL classes are accessed online. Make sure the family you support continue to have the tools and technology they need to continue with classes.
- Ask colleges and ESOL providers what their long-term plan for classes will be. Some colleges may allow students to attend classes in person in a socially distanced setting and others may decide to continue with online support.
- Check in with local schools about their processes and help any parents in the family navigate the current procedures. Remember that schools often communicate with parents via text message in English.
- You can also support the family by introducing the children to these educational resources available in English and Arabic.
- Check out our Covid-19 and ESOL resource for ideas for teachers and students
- Help the family to access groceries they need. Before lockdown, they may have been travelling large distances on public transport to buy specific cultural products and may not feel comfortable doing that currently.
- Make sure the family can access your support – this may need to be virtual rather than in person. Think about using Google Hangouts or other online resources to stay in contact with the family you have welcomed
- You can also share with the family this guide for coping strategies for anxious times, available in a variety of languages
Reset Training and Support
- In line with government guidance, we will not be hosting or attending gatherings of people, and for the time being, we have postponed all in person training. We are still able to deliver application workshops and sessions by webinar or phone.
- All Post Arrival Support Visits will be carried out online.
- We're here to help!
Please contact us if we can assist your Group.