Who are UK Welcomes Refugees?

We were founded in July 2020 with a Mission to ‘secure the safe and good resettlement of those seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom primarily through the promotion of Community Sponsorship and related initiatives which involve and encourage the active participation and leadership of Civil Society.’

We are a registered Charity (1195770) and Company (12679315) with a shared vision of a more welcoming world for all.


Our Board is Chaired by Mark Wiggin until recently CEO of Caritas Salford and includes:

  • Nour Sakr Vice Chair (experienced Syrian volunteer, lawyer and business representative);
  • Rabbi Danny Rich, Treasurer (Co-Chair of UK Welcome Committee and ex Senior Rabbi and CEO of Liberal Judaism);
  • Ahmad Al-Rashid (Organiser at International Organisation for Migration, Star of BBC Documentary ‘Exodus’, Syrian Refugee);
  • Fermi Wong (Founder of Hong Kong Unison, recent arrival in UK via BN(0) Passport);
  • Gulwali Passarlay (child refugee from Afghanistan & author of bestselling book “The Lightless Sky’),
  • Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari (former Secretary General of Muslim Council of Britain).


Our staff team is led by Acting Director Neil Jameson, (Founder of Citizens UK and Sponsor Refugees); it includes:

  • Nadine Daniel, Campaigns and Strategy Lead (former National Refugee Welcome Coordinator for the Church of England);
  • Joy Lam – Community Organiser for UK Welcomes Hong Kongers
  • Sally Wood, Operations Lead.

What we believe

  • There have always been refugees and the number of refugees will grow exponentially as a result of Climate Change and existing causes of forced migration.
  • It is a question of luck and chance where we are born so we must treat refugees as we would like to be treated.
  • Welcoming and resettling refugees is good for the character and narrative of every nation (as well as good for those seeking sanctuary and a new home).

UKWR funding

The Volant Foundation and Westminster Caritas have been providing funding to support the aims of UKWR. A private individual is supporting the UK Welcomes Hong Konger’s element of the charity.  The trustees wish to seek new funding to ensure continuity of UKWR services and the delivery of our strategy.


The UKWR strategy 2022-25

UKWR’s strategy is to address the growth and development of Community Sponsorship and other innovative models of resettlement. We will do this by:

  1. Securing funding to build the capacity of UKWR to convene and support Community Sponsorship to deliver a growth agenda to increase the number of refugees accessing safe and legal pathways to resettlement
  2. Reworking the current model of Community Sponsorship beyond the UNHCR/Home Office iteration.
  3. Investing in the creation of a Principal Sponsors Alliance to coordinate and advocate for support and improvements to the scheme.
  4. Contribute to a movement that supports the role of civil society in the welcoming and integration of refugees under the scheme.
  5. Applying our learning to the wider migration community to shape good practice.


Supporting Principal Sponsors

Principal sponsors are those charitable organisations currently registered with the Home Office as lead sponsors, that are seeking to build their long-term capacity to deliver multiple sponsor groups and help to embed Community Sponsorship as a major resettlement pathway for refugees. The principal sponsors are the critical and pivotal animators of the scheme and need to be invested in if they are to remain fully committed to its long-term future.

UK Welcomes Refugees is committed to strengthen the community-based leadership of the Community Sponsorship scheme and support the capacity of the principal sponsors to grow the scheme. If community sponsorship is to reach its potential to become a major pathway for the protection of refugees, principal sponsors need to be more organised to bring about a more ambitious vision for the scheme and the role of civic society in leading it.

The growth of Community Sponsorship in the UK is dependent upon the joint endeavours of principal sponsors, the Home Office, Reset, GRSI, UNHCR and other international actors, working together in a spirit of ‘generous leadership’ to deliver an ambitious vision for growth, supported by significant philanthropic, business and government investment.

If the principal sponsors are to overcome the obstacles and barriers to resettlement and develop a national strategy with government to promote the scheme, they will also need to collaborate in a spirit of openness and reciprocity and speak with one voice.


Principal Sponsors Alliance

A Principal Sponsors Alliance will result in a more cohesive network of faith and civic society leaders who share information, collaborate to solve common problems, agree shared strategic goals and align advocacy campaigns around a shared interest in growing and sustaining community sponsorship.

The new Principal Sponsors Alliance aims to represents the majority of principal sponsors operating in the UK and reflect a diversity of faith and ethnic-based and other organisations committed to the resettlement scheme. It will seek to build bridges of understanding among all members.

The following organisations have agreed in principle to establish the Principal Sponsors Alliance:

  • The Salvation Army
  • CSAN members: Caritas Diocese of Westminster, Caritas Diocese of Salford, Nugent Care, Catholic Care Diocese of Leeds, Caritas Diocese of Shrewsbury.
  • Church of England: Diocese of Chelmsford, Diocese of Canterbury, Diocese of Rochester
  • North Tyneside Welcomes
  • Quakers
  • Methodists

The Terms of Reference (TOR) has been agreed.  The mission of the Principal Sponsors Alliance is to be a collective and effective voice for the principal sponsors in promoting and enabling the Community Sponsorship scheme to flourish, whether among its members’ own supporters, the UK public, local authorities, the Home Office as well as national and international organizations.

The proposed benefits of this alliance are to:

  • Provide an identity for the Principal Sponsors as they interact with and work with the Home Office, government, other organizations and the UK public
  • Develop a common national perspective and voice that can advocate for the interests and concerns of the principal sponsors and contribute to the wider sponsorship community especially RESET and the new Community Sponsorship Council
  • Generate funding for the members to sustain their role as principal sponsors
  • Monitor decisions and practices of governments and organisations to ensure the well-being of sponsored refugees and their sponsoring organisations
  • Develop and enhance the community sponsorship scheme to maximize its potential;
  • Work with the Home Office and other organisations to further the goals of the Alliance.

UKWR has consulted with the principal sponsors in England and Wales and also with Brian Dyck, the National Migration& Resettlement Programme Coordinator for the Mennonite Church in Canada.  He is a leading figure in the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) and refugee resettlement in Canada and the USA. Canada was the first country in the world to pioneer Community Sponsorship (called Private Sponsorship in Canada) when they welcomed the Vietnamese ‘Boat People’ to Canada in 1979.  Forty plus years later there are over 120 Principal Sponsors or members of the Sponsorship Agreement Holders Alliance and in 2019 sponsored 19,000 refugees.

UK Welcomes Refugees will play a key part in the proposed Alliance and to offer support, coordination and service in the formation and launch of this group. It has been agreed with members that UKWR will provide the vital role of the secretariat of plus support and coordination for the Alliance.  We would also seek funding and recognition for the new Alliance by bidding for resources as a consortium.  We would seek recognition through an elected Executive and specialist subgroups, learning together and campaigning for agreed changes to the Sponsorship and resettlement models, with the aim to attract many more diverse groups into membership and leadership.

Serviced by a convening secretariat, its remit would be determined by its principal sponsor members. Such an alliance could become the accountable body to receive, manage, disburse and account for principal sponsor funding.


Proposal for support

A capacity building grant will secure the future of UK Welcomes Refugees and create the resources needed by the charity to develop its strategies and in particular support the establishment of the Principal Sponsors Alliance that will be a very significant and positive development for the Community Sponsorship scheme. Support from Porticus will also encourage other funders to support this initiative.