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Church nominated for award celebrating those who've helped refugees

by Cara Bentley

In September 2015, the Government pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees via the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme, Citizens UK then started to persuade councils and community groups to participate in housing people.

The Community Sponsorship Awards to recognise those efforts will take place in London this evening, paying tribute to those who have welcomed refugees into the country, either through escorting them from the airport to their new home, providing a pack of food and essentials on their arrival or spent money on English classes and sometimes even providing them with a home.

Tim Finch, the founding director of Sponsor Refugees, told Premier why they're holding the awards: "People who get involved in it really find it rewarding and inspiring and good fun as well. But it's a lot of work, you have to raise money, you have to find a house, you have to plan for and then help support the refugee family when they arrive, and all of that's done on an entire voluntary basis."

"It seemed appropriate to us that...the people who do that, among them many Christian communities, should be celebrated and recognised in their work."

Finch explained how the UK followed Canada's model in allowing volunteers and faith groups to resettle refugees.

"Up until very recently this was something only done by the state, by local authorities or by contracted professional partners,

"It's very clear that lots of people in civil society, particularly faith groups it must be said, want to go that extra mile and really take on the lead responsibility for welcoming and supporting a refugee family in their community.

"It does mean people giving up, frankly, years of their life, to devote it to welcoming a family into their community."

Raynes Park community church in South West London are one of those nominated in the Community Sponsorship Group of the Year category. The Salvation Army church help reunite family members within the UK and settled a family in a church property.

They sought the approval of the congregation, found a church property, repaired it and pulled-in the skills of the community, such as foreign language-speakers and decorators and housed a refugee family.

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