The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


The role of communities in refugee resettlement. Comparing resettlement schemes in the UK

This research analyses the new model of community sponsorship for the resettlement of refugees and met some of the first communities and families to adopt it in the UK.

refugee hands and fingers in a circle

25 October 2018

In partnership with Citizens UK and under the supervision of Dr Andrea Rigon, MSc Social Development Practice students, Mahdi Alraie and Hannah Collins have analysed the new model of community sponsorship for the resettlement of refugees and met some of the first communities and families to adopt it in the UK. The research has focused on the role of the host community in the integration process.

Out of 193 members, 147 United Nations member states have signed the convention on refugees, committing to providing asylum to the persecuted and stateless. However, only about 20 states offer permanent resettlement. At the end of 2016 less than 1% of the 17.2 million refugees were resettled. The UK government has committed to resettle 20,000 people affected by the conflict in Syria by 2020. To assist in the resettlement of the 20,000, two programmes are in place: government-led resettlement scheme (GS) and community sponsorship (CS). Building on the Canadian model, the community sponsorship was only launched in July 2016. This researched compared the two schemes by developing a framework for the assessment of refugees integration and analysing the perspectives from newcomers and host communities.

Key highlights of the report:
•    Social support from the host community is an impor¬tant part of both resettlement schemes but is more actively promoted through community sponsorship policy, which allows for both newcomers and host communities to integrate and access services with more ease and support.
•    Community sponsorship is a big commitment for any community group but has benefits beyond assisting newcomers to resettle; it offers communities the op¬portunity to flourish and brings them closer together through active participation and engagement with diversity.
•    Government-led resettlement has the potential to effec¬tively contribute to a successful integration process but needs supportive systems to enable open communi¬cation and collaboration between volunteer community groups and local councils.

There are two reports available:

A full report explaining the framework and providing detailed evidence from research participants is available for download here (link).

A report of key findings report [link] written for a wider audience to present the main findings is available for download here (link).

The project team would like to thank the inspirational newcomers and communities we met who shared their stories and experiences with us. We would also like to especially thank those at Citizens UK, Neil Jameson, Bekele Woyecha and Tim Finch for this fantastic opportunity and for the introductions to the communities. The project was possible due to DPU TAS reserve who helped with travel expenses and was initiated through the award of two DPU Dissertation Fellowships.