The Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a new scheme to encourage community groups to sponsor a refugee family. The full community sponsorship scheme will enable community groups including charities, faith groups and businesses to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK. We are especially proud that Coventry (as a City of Sanctuary) has been chosen as one of the pilot cities. Coventry is also a City of peace and reconciliation and has taken in 200 Syrian refugees and over 60 Afghan interpreters in the last two years. Other Local authorities in the pilot scheme Broxtowe, Cambridge, Cornwall, Gateshead, Lambeth, City of Nottingham, Wiltshire, and City of York. It is not known when the pilot will be extended.
The government is now asking organisations and individuals who want to help, to come forward. We welcome the scheme and value the opportunity for local people to be involved with helping refugees integrate. We know that connecting people with refugees makes a real difference and provides mutual benefits for refugees and local people. There is evidence from the Canadian scheme that refugees sponsored by communities integrate faster than those supported by governments alone. Sponsors will be allocated vulnerable families and will not be able to identify or select a specific individual or group to sponsor.
We would prefer that this scheme was additional to the 20,000 Syrians that the government have already agreed to resettle and that communities can use the scheme to help extended families join those already here. See the Red Cross #Torn Apart campaign. We would also like to see community sponsorship extended to all refugees. It is important that such schemes include all refugees and that they do not detract from our capacity to support asylum seekers waiting in limbo or new refugees who win their asylum claims in the UK.
Click here for a video link on Facebook from a BBC Coventry and Warwickshire news report.