Lambeth residents, community groups and businesses will be able to directly sponsor a refugee family in the borough under a national pilot scheme launched today.
Lambeth is one of nine local authorities piloting the Full Community Sponsorship programme, and encouraging residents to register their offers of support. The council is already one of the first to provide homes for refugee families from Syria, after the Government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees last September.
The scheme, launched at Lambeth Palace by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, will enable community organisations including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK.
A new “Help Refugees in the UK” webpage will also make it easier for any member of the public to support refugees in the UK and allow local authorities to focus support on the goods and services that refugees need. The sponsorship scheme and webpage have been launched as part of the Government’s commitment to resettle thousands of the most vulnerable refugees in the UK.
Details were released as Ms Rudd met members of a family of Syrian refugees, who are now living in a cottage in the grounds of the Archbishop’s London residence, Lambeth Palace.
She said: “This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support.
“I hope that this new approach will help bring communities together and support these often traumatised and vulnerable families as they rebuild their lives, and contribute to and thrive in our country.
“I’m delighted that Lambeth has signed up to the Help Refugees service and I’m confident it will lead to many generous offers of support from the public.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, paid tribute to the work of Lambeth Council in helping the Church provide a home for a family at Lambeth Palace. He said: “Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish.
“It is an enormous privilege to welcome a family to live in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth Council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen.”
Lambeth is already helping to support 14 Syrian refugees. Lambeth Council leader, Cllr Lib Peck, who also attended the launch, said: “I’m really pleased that Lambeth is at the forefront of the Full Community Sponsorship scheme. The joint planning between Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Council and the Syrian Resettlement Programme means that the family will be able to settle in to the wider community.
“The support from residents in Lambeth has been overwhelming and heart-warming. We are excited to be able to build on this support as a pilot area for the ‘Help Refugees in the UK’ website. This new initiative will help us make sure that refugees that arrive in Lambeth have the vital support that they need.”
The Help Refugees in the UK website is initially being piloted in nine local authorities. It has been designed to enable local authorities to specify the type of donations they most require to support refugees in their area.
Users can select from a range of options for donations, including goods such as baby equipment and clothes, group and cultural outings and the use of vacant housing that must be self-contained and available for a period of at least 12 months.
Offers of help can be made by members of the public across the country. In non-pilot areas these will be considered centrally by the Home Office before being passed on to local authorities.
The website will be rolled out to further local authorities across the country in the coming months.
The details of the scheme have been developed in consultation with the National Refugee Welcome Board (convened by Citizens UK), Churches Together: for Refugees, local authorities and a range of other stakeholders including those who have come forward as prospective sponsors around the country.
Notes for editors
Details of the sponsorship scheme are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-full-community-sponsorship
For more information on how to help refugees, visit: https://www.gov.uk/helpsyrianrefugees
The Help Refugees in the UK webpage can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/help-refugees
Notes to Editors
- The Government has also pledged more than £2.3 billion in humanitarian aid to Syria and neighbouring countries. We are providing more than £60 million in response to the Mediterranean migration crisis, which includes life-saving humanitarian assistance within Europe. The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the Syria crisis.
- The Help Refugees in the UK website is initially being launched in nine pilot local authorities. They are Nottingham, Broxtowe, Wiltshire, Cornwall, Cambridge, Coventry, Gateshead, City of York and Lambeth.
- The resettled families under Full Community Sponsorship will be granted Humanitarian Protection, meaning they will have permission to stay in the UK for a period of five years. During this time, they will have the right to work, to claim relevant benefits, to access the NHS and attend school. After five years the resettled family will have the option of applying to extend their leave in the UK.
- All Syrian refugees arriving in the UK, including those under Full Community Sponsorship, have been through a thorough two-stage vetting process. The UK works closely with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has its own robust identification processes in place. This includes the taking of biometrics, documentary evidence and interviews.
- For updates on Community Sponsorship on Twitter follow the hashtag #supportrefugees.