How To Help Syrian Refugees: Church Led Group Becomes One Of First To Welcome Family To UK

A Christian-led community group is becoming one of the first to welcome a Syrian refugee family into the UK under the government's new sponsorship scheme.

Worthing 4 Refugees was approved by the Home Office last week and will support the family, currently in a refugee camp in the Middle East, as it settles into British life.

Fleeing war-torn Syria, the traumatised family has been identified as particularly vulnerable and will become one of the first to resettle into the UK under a scheme launched with the Archbishop of Canterbury last year.

The community sponsorship scheme means local groups take responsibility for meeting the family at the airport, providing housing, arranging English language tuition, and supporting them towards employment and self-sufficiency.Church Response for Refugees

Upon their arrival they will be greeted by the West Sussex community group who then make sure the family are welcomed into the area and have suitable housing, education and access to healthcare.

The group's head Gay Jacklin said: 'We are very pleased with the approval of our sponsorship application.

'This will enable us to respond more meaningfully and personally to the refugee crisis by welcoming refugees to our community.

'We would appreciate your prayers for the Syrian family, that they may settle in quickly and feel welcomed in Worthing, and for us, that we may have Godly wisdom in all that we do for the family.'

Louise Goldsmith, West Sussex County Council leader, described the organisation as 'competent and capable' and said she was 'delighted' the bid to host a Syrian family had been successful.

'We have already welcomed eight Syrian refugee families and are shortly expecting another two in West Sussex,' she said. 'I have had the honour of meeting several of them who speak very highly of the support they have been given by the community after they have overcome such devastating experiences.

'The community has really stepped up to the plate, including Worthing 4 Refugees, and for that we are very grateful.'

The Syrian families come from UNHCR camps in the Middle East where people have fled war, violence and persecution.Church Response for Refugees

Based on the Canadian private sponsorship scheme which has resettled nearly 300,000 refugees since 1979, the community sponsorship programme is part of the UK government's commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

Several churches have led the charge in welcoming families after the Archbishop of Canterbury became the first, housing a Syrian family in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace.

Since then the Diocese of Salford and the Salvation Army have both welcomed Syrian refugee families, taking responsibility for their integration into UK life.

Church Response for Refugees, a charity coordinating the drive, is expecting the number of churches welcoming refugees to rise sharply in the coming weeks.

Chief executive Tania Bright said Worthing 4 Refugees had started 'an incredible journey' and looked forward to giving training and support in welcoming the family.

'We are providing assistance to 28 Christian community groups across the UK to become Community Sponsors,' she said.

'Both Archbishop Welby and Cardinal Nichols are passionately calling on Christians to sponsor Syrian refugee families. I am confident that Community Sponsorship will become the defining channel through which churches can be salt and light to Syrian refugee families arriving in their local communities.'