Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced £1 million in funding to help communities support refugees fleeing the war in Syria
The announcement marks the first anniversary of the community sponsorship scheme launched by the Home Secretary at Lambeth Palace in 2016, which enables community groups to take on the role of supporting refugees who have been resettled from camps in the countries surrounding Syria.
Since the scheme was launched, a total of 53 refugees have been welcomed by ten community groups across the UK.
Community sponsors – including charities, faith groups and churches – provide housing for the refugee families, as well as helping them integrate into life in the UK. Help is also provided with accessing medical and social services, arranging English language tuition – and supporting Syrian refugees towards employment and self-sufficiency.
The two-year £1m fund will provide training and support for groups signing up to the scheme.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
“I am delighted that the community sponsorship scheme has got off to such an excellent start.
“The work of the volunteers who have welcomed refugees into their communities over the last year is inspiring – as is the compassion of the many local authorities who have provided their support. But this is just the beginning.
“I hope many more groups from across England and Wales will be inspired to get involved – that is why I have announced this funding, to help more communities welcome vulnerable families looking to create a new life and bring real benefits to the places in which they will live and work.”
A year ago Lambeth Palace became the first community group to welcome a refugee family. Since then, community groups from Manchester to Cornwall and Wales have also welcomed vulnerable families into their communities.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“Last year we welcomed a family of Syrian refugees to live with us here at Lambeth Palace, through the community sponsorship scheme.
“It has been an absolute privilege and joy to get to know this special family over the last year as we’ve supported them to start a new life in the UK – they have been a blessing to us in so many ways.
“It’s amazing to think that we are celebrating the one year anniversary of the scheme.
“In whatever way you can, I would encourage everyone to get involved with community sponsorship and support refugees – it is truly a life-changing experience.”
The UK scheme has been set up by the government working closely with civil society groups and international partners, including the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative – which is jointly led by the Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Open Society Foundations, the Radcliffe Foundation and the University of Ottawa.
The UK government says it remains on track to meet its commitment of resettling 23,000 of the most vulnerable refugees through the vulnerable person and children’s resettlement schemes by 2020, with more than 7,000 refugees resettled as of March 2017.
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