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Refugees are fleeing persecution, violence and conflict and are often unable to travel far beyond the borders of their home country. They often live in refugee camps or urban settings for years; many children have lived their entire lives in refugee camps. One of the ways in which the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) helps such refugees is to offer resettlement to another country.

In the UK, there are several schemes:

  • Gateway Resettlement Scheme – this scheme has been running since 2004. Groups of refugees are chosen by the UNHCR and resettled to cities across the UK. Currently, 750 refugees are resettled per year under this scheme. 
  • Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS) – In September 2015 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that the UK would resettle 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020, in addition to those resettled under the Gateway scheme (A statement in Aug 2017 announced that over 8500 people have been resettled under this scheme so far).
  • The Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme was announced in April 2016 and pledged to resettle 3000 unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable refugee children.
  • The Dubs Amendment was also passed in April 2016, pledging to resettle an unspecified number of unaccompanied minors from camps in Europe to join family members in the UK. 200 young people were resettled in 2016 as part of this scheme but in Feb 2017, the government announced that the scheme would be capped at 350 places.

In July 2016, the government also announced a Community Sponsorship scheme where a community group can take on the role of supporting a resettled family (providing accommodation and integration support). 

Organisations providing Resettlement support

The Refugee Council provides support to resettled refugees across the UK

Refugee Action also provides support to resettled refugees across the UK

Horton Housing provides support to resettled refugees in Bradford

Please see the ‘Community Sponsorship’ tab on this page for info about community sponsorship.

Government Information on Resettlement Schemes

Home Office factsheet on Syrian VPRS

Home Office statement on Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (Apr 2016)

Community Sponsorship application (updated Dec 2018)

The Local Government Association has information for Councils on supporting refugees, asylum seekers and unaccompanied children.

Reset have a training website with resources and guidance for prospective and existing community sponsor groups.

The Local Government Association guide ‘Resettling refugees – support after the first year’ is a good practice guide for local authorities who are planning and developing their programme of support to resettled clients on the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Schemes (VPRS) that have been in the UK for more than a year and who are transitioning into Years 2-5 support. It explores at a deliberately high level the range of issues that local partners could focus on.

Other Useful Links

UNHCR pages on Resettlement

UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs

Gateway Good Practice Guide from Refugee Council and Refugee Action (2008)

Syrian Refugee Resettlement: A Guide for Local Authorities by LGA (Local Government Association)

Information sheet from ILPA on the 2017 announcement that those resettled under the VPRS and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme are entitled to refugee status

A video from Hammersmith and Fulham Refugees Welcome Group encouraging landlords to sign up to the VPRS

Facts about Resettlement from the Refugee Council

Resettlement data from UNHCR (useful for comparing the numbers resettled in the UK with other countries)

An article from the BBC – ‘Where have the UK’s 10,000 Syrian refugees gone?‘ (Apr 2018)

City of Sanctuary welcomes community sponsorship as a positive way of involving local communities in welcoming and integration activities for resettled refugees. It can encourage greater involvement in awareness raising, networking and building places of welcome. However, we are disappointed that the community sponsorship opportunities under current Home Office guidelines are included in the 20,000 Syrian resettlement target.  We would prefer community sponsorship to be over and above government commitments to resettlement and that it was extended to refugees from any country.  We are also aware that community sponsors cannot choose who they resettle, and so cannot use community sponsorship to bring in extended family of already settled refugees. 

We are mindful that in dispersal areas, City of Sanctuary groups’ capacity is focused on developing streams and awards,  awareness raising, advocacy and building welcome for asylum seekers waiting in limbo or new refugees who win their asylum claims in the UK. These activities can also be embedded in community sponsorship schemes making them especially relevant in areas where there are no people seeking sanctuary. So despite our reservations about the limitations of the current scheme, we welcome its value and potential in demonstrating the welcoming environment,  especially for groups in non dispersal areas.
Links to further information below:

Reset Communities and Refugees is a charity providing support through the community sponsorship process

Government announcement about Community Sponsorship scheme (Jul 2016)

Government information for prospective sponsorship organisations

Government leaflet about community sponsorship scheme

‘Introducing Community Sponsorship’ video on Youtube

Community sponsorship information for churches from For Refugees