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Community groups and individuals settling refugees honoured in national awards ceremony

9 award winners have been recognised by senior figures including Canada’s Deputy Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Catrina Tapley, UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) representative in London, Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor and Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham. 

The Community Sponsorship Awards were organised by the Foundation set up and supported by Citizens UK and was co-presented by Hani, one of the first Syrian Refugees to be settled by the scheme in the UK. They marked a special moment to reflect and celebrate some of the work done since the Refugee Welcome movement first shone a light on the refugee crisis. Since that time a groundswell of support helped bring thousands of people to safety.

(c) Ian Brodie / Sponsor Refugees

Community groups from across the UK have been recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in London for their pioneering work to bring Syrian refugee families through the government’s Community Sponsorship schem– a way ordinary people can privately sponsor refugee families to find new lives free from the horrors of conflict in the UK. 

Under the scheme, community groups take on the lead responsibility for welcoming and supporting a refugee family in their neighbourhood. It allows Syrian families who are currently living in a refugee camps in the Middle East to come to the UK through a safe and legal route.  

The scheme is becoming a well-established part of the UK Governments refugee resettlement effort and takes its inspiration from the work pioneered in Canada which has resettled 300,000 refugees since it began in 1978. 

Around 200 community sponsorship groups have now formed around the UK, and 350 refugees have been settled since the scheme launched, with more families arriving through sponsorship on an almost weekly basis.  The scheme has high-profile backing from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who have both urged their congregations to get involved.  

At the national Community Sponsorship awards ceremony (Tuesday 2nd October) at Canada House in London 9 winners were commended for their work and dozens more pledges from new groups and established groups seeking to settle their second family were made to settle refugee families in 2019 and 2020. 

Hani, who was settled by the ABIDE Community Sponsorship group in Devon and co-presented the awards said:  

“We didn't know anything about the UK, but when we arrived the ABIDE Community Sponsorship group welcomed us like family. ABIDE helped to take my children to school and they helped me and my wife Amneh to learn English. It was a huge welcome.” 

Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: 

“What an inspirational evening this has been, packed with stories of remarkable people doing good in the world. These are difficult and divided times, but Community Sponsorship is one of those civic activities, that doesn’t hit the headlines, but which shows humanity at its best.” 

Tim Finch, Director Sponsor Refuges, the Citizens Foundation for Community Sponsorship, which organised the awards: 

“Sponsor Refugees relies on thousands of quiet heroes from all walks of life, the inspiring winners from this year’s award shows that the proud British tradition of welcoming refugees is alive and well.”  

ENDS 

Nominees and winners of the Community Sponsorship awards 2018 were: 

 

AWARDS HOSTS 

Claudia Hammond, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service Presenter 

Hani Arnaout, Syrian sponsored refugee 

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Alison Watt, Haddenham Syrian Family Project, Buckinghamshire - winner 

Erica Brooks, Refugee Sponsorship Edinburgh, Scotland 

Sebit Nal, The Welcome Committee, London 

YOUNG CHAMPION OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Bea Forrester, Peckham Sponsors Refugees (London) - winner 

& Rushholme Sponsors Refugees (Manchester) 

Mouteb Ajaj, London 

Pupils of Queen’s College, Taunton, Somerset 

LOCAL AUTHORITY OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Bristol Council 

Bury Council 

Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council, Wales - winner 

East Lindsey Council, Lincolnshire 

Liverpool Council 

NEW COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP GROUP OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Croeso Menai, North Wales (winner)

Greenlanes Mosque, Birmingham 

Merton Schools, London 

Refugee ReSETTLEment Community Sponsorship Group, Yorkshire 

CHAMPION OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Alaa Khattab, London (winner) 

Eva Jonsson, London 

Vicky Moller, Wales 

INTERNATIONAL AWARD 

Ireland 

PARTNERSHIP OF THE YEAR 

(CELEBRATING ALLIANCES & COMMUNITY COHESION) 

SHORTLIST 

Abraham’s Tent Community Sponsorship Project, London 

Croeso Roath Cathays, Wales 

Old Swan Welcomes, Liverpool (winner)

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR 

SHORTLIST 

Dalya, London 

Hatem Al-Janabi, London 

Samir Hamyeh, Manchester 

Samer Khaled Karob, London 

 


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