Background to the Sponsorship Scheme

The Community Sponsorship Scheme is a government-backed initiative that enables community groups - including the Catholic Church, its agencies and charities - to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK.

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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.

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.

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