Today (Friday 20 January), The Salvation Army hosted a discussion panel aimed at encouraging community groups to support refugee families fleeing conflict. 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 and will be welcoming its first refugee family to London next month.
Hosted at The Salvation Army’s international headquarters in London, the discussion panel featured speakers from The Salvation Army among other church and charity organisations as well as government representatives and guests from Canada, where a similar long-established scheme has resettled thousands of refugees and is widely heralded a success.
Major Nick Coke, who spoke today, is the Refugee Coordinator for The Salvation Army. He says: “A growing number of our communities have identified local concern for refugees and the means with which we can offer a practical solution. We are very encouraged by the government’s enthusiasm to gather support for its Community Sponsorship scheme; in the UK many of our churches 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.”
In September 2015 the government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees. The Community Sponsorship is its scheme which aims to enable community groups to become involved in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable people fleeing conflict.
Nick adds: “The Salvation Army is committed to transforming the lives of the most marginalised people and that includes refugees who have been left extremely vulnerable as a result of traumatic experiences. The Community Sponsorship scheme can give safe passage to the UK helping to ensure refugee families do not fall prey to exploitation. As a charity we work with victims of modern slavery and have seen an increase in the number of victims who have escaped from war-torn countries only to be tricked and trafficked into slavery – the exploitation and trafficking of vulnerable refugees into slavery is always a big concern.
“As a community organisation, The Salvation Army is in the ideal position to offer help to vulnerable families, whether they are from the UK or not. We’d encourage any community group concerned about the plight of refugees to review the criteria for Community Sponsorship; if you fit the bill, all it takes is a bit of passion and some determination to be able to give hope to a vulnerable family.”
For more information about the Community Sponsorship scheme visit the Home Office’s web page: