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Oxford Welcomes Refugees - A Community Sponsorship Group

"The support of my Community Sponsors has been life-changing for me and my family. Just two years into our new lives here, we're speaking English, working, and now supporting other vulnerable people in our area."

Abdullah, a sponsored refugee in Oxford

With the support of the Community Sponsorship scheme and following the example of the Blackfriars group that sponsored Syrian refugee Abdullah and his family, a second Oxford Community Sponsorship group has been formed by people from north Oxford (including five from St Michael's Summertown) and beyond. Naming themselves Oxford Welcomes Refugees, they want to encourage a positive, strong relationship with refugees and the local community.

Launched in 2016 by the Home Office and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Community Sponsorship scheme is a refugee resettlement programme with local people at its heart. It enables community groups to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugee families into their local area and support them as they rebuild their lives.

The war in Syria has created over 5. 5 million refugees, who continue to face bleak living conditions in neighbouring countries. "There's no hope" was how one Syrian woman described her home at a refugee camp on the Syria-Turkey border.

But through Community Sponsorship, over 300 such families have now been sponsored by local communities in the UK and very many more worldwide. Whilst being part of a Community Sponsorship group is a big commitment, members agree it is a hugely rewarding experience.

"Being involved in a Community Sponsorship group has been one of the best experiences of my life."

Jo, member of a Community Sponsorship group.

Oxford Welcomes Refugees is currently preparing a detailed application to the Home Office, as well as seeking approval from the City and County Councils.

To be ready to receive a family they need to: 

  • Find and furnish an affordable home for a refugee family for a period of two years
  • Raise £14,000 to cover various costs like translation, furnishing the house and English classes;
  • Welcome the family at the airport and settle them in their new community (helping them register for benefits, access health services and enrol children in schools);
  • Provide support and encouragement to the family for at least one year so that they can live securely and independently.

Alyson Peberdy, chair of Oxford Welcomes Refugees and an associate priest at St Michaels, says there are many ways in which people near and far can help;

"There are so many ways people can help - could you make a financial donation, or fundraise? You could take inspiration from one of our community, Beryl Knotts, who is celebrating her 90th year by knitting a 90-square blanket to give to a refugee family and asking her own family and friends to sponsor her. Or, if you have enjoyed outdoor exercise during lockdown, perhaps you could get people to sponsor you for every mile you walk; I walked 73 miles to help raise funds.

"You might even be or know a private landlord who might be willing to rent a house from this autumn at the Oxford City Housing Allowance rate.

"Finding a safe, secure home for a refugee family will most likely be the most difficult part of our project, so I would love to hear from you if you are able to help."

Please email Alyson for more information about the project, or visit

Page last updated: Tuesday 20th December 2022 2:39 PM
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