Community Sponsorship of Refugees

Update March 2022: CSAN has provided national coordination within the Catholic community in England and Wales for the UK Government’s Community Sponsorship Scheme for Syrian refugees. We will update this page when the UK Government announces more information about a new scheme for Ukrainian refugees. It is possible to help Ukrainian refugees in other ways in the short-term – please see our guidance page.

What is Community Sponsorship?

‘...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me...’ – Matt. 25:35

‘May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family’ – Pope Francis, September 2015.

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.

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.


How does the scheme work?

The two-year programme comprises three main elements: Housing – Funding – Support

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.

What can I do next?

A brief introductory leaflet is available – click here to download (pdf, 1mb).

An 8-minute audio podcast on the progress of the scheme (May 2019) is available here.

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