Community Sponsorship

Al Sulaiman Family

Community Sponsorship is a model for refugee resettlement which was developed in Canada in the late 1970’s, which invites local communities to come together to support the effective resettlement of refugees. It has been enormously successful in Canada and in 2017, Ireland announced it would be developing its own programme.

Nasc has long called for the introduction of community sponsorship in Ireland (see our Safe Passage Campaign).  Since 2017, Nasc has worked closely with the Department of Justice and other civil society organisations to develop the Irish Community Sponsorship Programme. See our statement here on the official launch of the programme on 6th March 2019.

Dunshaughlin Community Sponsor Group with representatives from UNHCR Ireland and Nasc

Nasc has considerable experience in supporting communities to welcome refugee families. Between 2015-2018, Nasc worked closely with a community group in Wicklow to develop a pilot community sponsorship project, which welcomed the Al Sulaiman family to Wicklow in June 2018 (you can read more about that pilot project here).  More recently, Nasc supported the first official Community Sponsor Group in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath to welcome the first refugee family to Ireland under the Irish Community Sponsorship Programme in December 2018.

What is Community Sponsorship and how can I get involved?

Community Sponsorship enables communities to play an active role in welcoming refugees. Community Sponsorship is carried out by a core Community Sponsor Group – for example, neighbours, friends, colleagues, or members of a local sports club – who organise to provide both financial and in-kind support as well as social, orientation and administrative support as needed to refugees resettled in the local community.

This includes:

  • Sourcing accommodation for a period of 24 months for a resettled family or individuals
  • Providing supports as needed for a minimum period of 18 months
  • Fundraising a certain amount in advance of the arrival of the resettled family or individuals
  • Language, healthcare, educational and other orientation supports along the way

Community Sponsor Groups are supported in this process by a Regional Support Organisation, like Nasc, which helps the group to apply to become a Community Sponsor Group and to develop the Group’s settlement plan.  Regional Support Organisations provide Community Groups with training and support throughout the entire process, and we prioritise safeguarding and adequate preparation throughout the process. The ultimate focus is on promoting independence, agency and social inclusion for the Community Sponsor Groups and for the refugee families when they arrive.

Community Sponsorship takes hard work, imagination and above all commitment, but we have also seen first hand how enriching and rewarding it can be for both communities and refugees in equal measure. It also provides a way for communities to be part of the response to the ongoing refugee crisis in a real and life changing way.

Documents relating to Community Sponsorship Ireland include:

  1. An Introduction to Community Sponsorship Ireland
  2. Community Sponsorship Policy Framework
  3. Community Sponsorship Application Form
  4. Community Sponsorship Guide for Prospective Sponsors
  5. Community Sponsorship Guide for Sponsors’ Settlement Planning
  6. Community Sponsorship Settlement Plan Template

Information about the Programme and how to apply can also be found on the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration’s website: www.integration.ie.

If you are interested in finding out how your local community can sponsor a refugee family, please contact Nasc’s Community Sponsorship Project Worker Maria Bateson at maria@nascireland.org.  

Watch UNHCR’s video about the first family to arrive in Ireland through Community Sponsorship here:

Some other videos which help explain Community Sponsorship:

  1. Community Sponsorship in the UK
  2. Canadian Sponsorship Experiences
  3. How Communities Sponsor: Canada’s Program (animated video)