Councillor Waseem Zaffar announced at the national refugee summit in Birmingham that Birmingham City Council will support the community sponsorship of Syrian refugees.
The Methodist Network, led by Rev David Butterworth, will offer to sponsor a family of four – with the support of Birmingham City Council and the Home Office – as part of the council leader’s commitment to welcome 500 refugees over the next five years.
Cllr Zaffar said: “I welcome the offer of the Methodist Network to sponsor a refugee family and I have written to the Home Office confirming the city council’s support. At this stage we are treating this as a pilot scheme as we need to monitor how this works before committing to further sponsorship applications, but this is a great first step.
“What is happening in Syria is a human catastrophe and it is only right that we do all we can to offer shelter to people fleeing for their lives, something Birmingham has a proud history of. We will continue to work with partners to ensure refugees coming to Birmingham are settled and able to integrate into the city and start a new life here.”
Methodist Minister the Rev David Butterworth commented: “To be able to provide a safe welcome to a refugee family is a wonderful privilege. The Methodist Church has worked very closely with Birmingham City Council to arrive at this point. We have also been supported greatly by CitizensUK, and by the National Refugee Welcome Board and locally encouraged by the Progressive Jewish Community and Sisters of Mercy Birmingham and not least by the Home Office.
“We hope that this family will be the first of many fleeing wars and horrors abroad that the Church can provide with sanctuary and love. We will be working alongside Birmingham City Council and the Home Office to provide support for further families and encouraging other organisations to join the Community Sponsorship scheme.”
Immigration Minister, Robert Goodwill, said: “The response of the British public to the refugee crisis has been one of overwhelming generosity and many have been moved to make kind offers of assistance. We are on track and delivering our commitment to help 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrians displaced by the conflict.
“We launched the Community Sponsorship scheme to enable community groups to directly support these often traumatised families through resettlement as they rebuild their lives, and begin to contribute to and thrive in our country.
“I am delighted that the Methodist Church are taking part in the scheme, with the full support of Birmingham City Council, and I wholeheartedly encourage other organisations that can help to offer their support.”