Justin Welby launches refugee resettlement scheme with Home Secretary Amber Rudd


Community groups will be able to sponsor a refugee family under a new scheme launched jointly today by the Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Full Community Sponsorship programme will enable churches, faith groups, charities and businesses to support directly resettled refugees.

The announcement at Lambeth Palace comes ten months after the Government said it would take in some 20,000 Syrian refugees to the UK. Justin Welby also confirmed that he is housing a family on the grounds of Lambeth Palace, the first community group to be approved for receiving refugees.

"It's an enormous privilege to welcome a family to live in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace," he said. "I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth Council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen."

He added: "The Full Community Sponsorship Scheme presents churches and other civil society groups with the opportunity to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places. Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish."

The family of Syrian refugees have already arrived at Lambeth Palace. Home Secretary Amber Rudd met with them earlier today. She told a press conference in the garden of Lambeth Palace that there were four children in the family - aged four to ten - and that when she asked what they wanted to do when they grow up they had all replied that they wanted to be doctors. Rudd joked that this would be a "great help to our NHS to have four new budding doctors".

Chris Cox / Lambeth Palace

Welby refused to confirm the make-up of the family.

Rudd said it was "wonderful" to be at Lambeth Palace "on such a fantastic and uplifting occasion".

She said: "I am just delighted that the Church of England has got involved in such a positive way to enable this one family to be resident here who are going to be starting a brilliant life in the UK."

She added of the family: "I am really moved by the experience of meeting them first hand."

Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings, made in the image of God, who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish
Justin Welby

Rudd encouraged individuals who wanted to help refugees to do so under the new scheme. She said: "The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance. This is a ground-breaking new development for resettlement in the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage organisations that can help to offer their support."

Asked why it had taken 10 months for the Home Office to establish such a scheme, Rudd said: "We have to be absolutely clear that we're doing everything correctly and safely. This is about families, about children, and however much we want to move quickly, we can't compromise safety at any point. We have now the structure and the architecture for trying to channel people's extraordinary goodwill, wanting to help people... I hope we'll see a great stepping forward and acceleration of this so we can actually deliver on it. But it was right to take the time to get it right."

In order to sponsor refugees organisations must have status as a registered charity or community interest company, the consent of the local authority and a comprehensive plan for resettlement.

A Help Refugees in the UK website is being launched today to make it easier for members of the public to help. Users can select from a range of options including making donations for baby equipment, food and clothes.

The website is being launched initially in nine pilot local authorities. They are City of Nottingham, Broxtowe, Wiltshire, Cornwall, Cambridge, Coventry, Gateshead, City of York and Lambeth.

Resettled families under the scheme will be granted humanitarian protection, meaning they can stay in the UK for a period of five years.

All Syrian refugees being resettled under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme have been through what the Home Office called a "thorough" vetting process.

Rudd added: "I hope 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."