Professor Jenny Phillimore and Dr Marisol Reyes from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) have published a report detailing the wider effects of the Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) in the UK, including knowledge about, and attitudes to, refugees in less-diverse communities.
Local residents expressed positive opinions about the impact of CSS and refugee families in their locality. Those with direct contact found they benefited, emotionally and intellectually, from their encounters with refugees. Individuals working with refugees in a professional capacity found their work rewarding and enjoyed working in new ways and sharing their learning. CSS volunteers frequently built the foundations for positive outcomes paving the way for CSS to act as a quiet force for change, pushing back against concerns generated by negative media. The impact of CSS was found to go beyond the effects on refugee families and the CSS group volunteers who support them.
Looking to the future, a multidisciplinary team from IRiS, City Redi and the School of Geography, at the University of Birmingham, has been granted Research England funding for the study 'Supporting the development of Community Sponsorship policy and practice: from local to global'. The project builds upon the College of Social Sciences seed corn funded Community Sponsorship Evaluation which has been highly influential in the UK as well as further afield. For the next three months the team will be interviewing Community Sponsorship volunteers and refugee families across the UK with the aim of providing knowledge for practitioners, sponsors and policymakers about the levels of support needed for refugees and volunteers and working to influence the new UK Community Sponsorship programme being launched later in 2020.
This research is also aiming to put down the foundations for a global community of scholarly practice in Community Sponsorship research which will come together to examine the potential to compare findings and prepare a proposal for undertaking systematic comparative research.