Lambeth council leader Lib Peck joined the archbishop of Canterbury and home secretary Amber Rudd today (19 July) to launch a pilot scheme enabling residents, community groups and businesses to directly sponsor a refugee family in the borough.
Lambeth is one of nine local authorities piloting the Full Community Sponsorship programme that encourages residents to register 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, the archbishop’s London residence, will help charities, faith groups, churches, businesses and others to support resettled refugees. A website will make it easy to offer support.
Home secretary Rudd met members of a family of Syrian refugees, who are living in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace.
“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,” she said.
The archbishop, Justin Welby, paid tribute to the work of the council in helping the church provide a home for a family at Lambeth Palace.
“I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen,” he said.
Lambeth is already helping to support 14 Syrian refugees. Peck said: “I’m really pleased that Lambeth is at the forefront of the Full Community Sponsorship scheme.
“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.”
People using the website 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 government plans to extend the scheme to more local authorities in the coming months.
Families resettled under the Full Community Sponsorship scheme 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 to attend school. After five years the resettled family will have the option of applying to extend their leave in the UK.
Details of the sponsorship scheme are here.
More information on how to help refugees.
For Twitter updates on Community Sponsorship: #supportrefugees.