World Refugee Day: Understanding community through helping refugee families

published on 20 Jun 2017

On World Refugee Week,The Salvation Army is encouraging communities to help one refugee family at a time through the Community Sponsorship scheme. 

The church and charity has been leading momentum, along with a number of other groups, in supporting the government’s pledge to resettle Syrian refugees through its Community Sponsorship scheme. One of The Salvation Army’s London churches welcomed its first refugee family into London earlier this year.  

Major Nick Coke, Refugee Coordinator for The Salvation Army, says: “Community sponsorship offers people who have been in appalling circumstances sanctuary. All the children have known is fleeing war; now they have a roof over their heads, a school, and friends.

“It’s profound to think that one of the children was living on a roundabout in Lebanon three months ago, yet since then they have sung in their new school choir at the Royal Albert Hall - and the parents went to watch.”

In the UK many of The Salvation Army’s church and community centres help refugees living in their communities on an individual basis and many of our members are eager to get involved and do what they can to offer help and sanctuary to vulnerable refugees escaping war-torn areas.

Nick adds: “Community Sponsorship is a great way to help resettle refugees because the whole community can get involved.

It opens up untapped resources within the community that can help people settle in and feel a part of our society for the long term. Community Sponsorship is something that works now, and will work for generations to come because of that integration with the local community.”

It’s clear that the local community have really come together to welcome the resettled refugee family The Salvation Army are supporting. People beyond the local Salvation Army church have opened their doors to welcome the family in – for instance the nearest bank coincidentally have an Arabic speaker who can advise the family on finances and a dentist has provided dental care for free despite being a private practitioner. 

“It’s difficult for us to comprehend the breadth of the problem”, Nick adds. “But Community Sponsorship is a bottom up model where local communities can come together to help one refugee family at a time. I’d encourage groups to come together and see if you can have a hands on approach to refugee resettlement.”