Background to the Sponsorship Scheme

23/01/2018 2:06 pm

Community Sponsorship is a way to welcome and resettle refugees, putting local communities at the heart of a family’s journey to a new life in the UK. 

The community assumes responsibility for a refugee family, from first arrival through to settled independence as part of their local community.

How does the scheme work?

The two-year programme comprises three main elements:

Housing – Find and prepare a suitable, affordable family home

Funding – Raise a support fund to cover additional needs

Support – Plan and deliver a programme of resettlement support

After security screening, medical checks and initial preparation about life in the UK, sponsored families arrive with full refugee status and the right to work, school places, free healthcare, English tuition (ESOL) and State benefits.

The scheme is inspired by a Canadian model which has successfully resettled around 300,000 refugees since it began in 1978.

How is it effective?

Frequent and intensive support by a committed group of volunteers

Families benefit from the rich social capital of a whole community

Strong bonds of friendship, mutual understanding and empathy

Shared motivation and commitment to successful resettlement

"The community sponsorship scheme personalises a huge, human drama, by enabling local communities to welcome and support refugees in a real and tangible way. This scheme opens a path for people to respond with compassion, providing welcome and integration, and should be taken up as widely as possible." – Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Parishes and Dioceses

In November 2016, St Monica’s, Flixton, in the Diocese of Salford, became the first Catholic parish to welcome a Syrian family under the scheme, with many more groups now following their lead.

Caritas Salford has been involved from the inception of the scheme and one of the first communities in the UK to sponsor a refugee family was the parish of St Monica's in Flixton, Manchester.


You can download a more detailed guide to the scheme:

Community Sponsorship Guide 1.55 MB

What can I do?

To arrange a discussion about the scheme, and for any further information, please send an email to

Catholic parishes and groups can contact their local diocesan coordinator or diocesan Caritas office.

A list of contacts can be found here:

Section on the Caritas Social Action Network website for the Community Sponsorship Scheme
Information on the government's full community sponsorship scheme

Other Links
Government information on how to set up and register a charity
Information on how to set up and register a Community Interest Company (CIC)
Information on ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages
The online language company, Little Bridge, has pledged free access to Syrian Refugees. It is geared towards children, but adults could make use of it as well.
A postcode-specific search engine for Local Housing Allowance Rates
Information on Housing Benefit
Information on Universal Credit
NSPCC guidance on writing a safeguarding policy for children
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) offer a free online adult safeguarding course as well as other safeguarding resources
The website has information on eligibility for Disclosure and Barring Service checks
Your local authority may have online resources for writing a safeguarding policy. Here's an example from Somerset County Council.