Cities discussing community sponsorship programmes for refugees

26 June 2020

The global number of displaced persons keeps rising. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has identified more than 1.44 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2020. However, current national pledges will serve fewer than 1% of these refugees. Against this background, community sponsorship programmes are met with increased interest.

On 25 June 2020, EUROCITIES and the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) organised a webinar to discuss with cities how they could become more involved in community sponsorship programmes. These programmes allow citizen groups to directly engage in refugee resettlement efforts and enable cities to work in close partnership with communities in resettling refugees. Cities can provide support to the community and sponsored refugees from arrival to settlement and integration and have an important stake in including refugees in society.

During the webinar, cities heard different perspectives on sponsorship programmes and how they work in practice from speakers from the UNHCR, national level, local authorities and sponsors themselves. They also received more information on funding opportunities for sponsorship programmes and the positive integration outcomes for sponsored refugees.

Bristol and Birmingham shared their own experiences from working together with the UK Home Office and local communities and discussed the role of local authorities involved in the process. This can range from raising awareness, to coordinating sponsorship groups and supporting the groups in their sponsorship application to the national level. When it comes to the practical side of things, local authorities also become involved with finding adequate housing, providing support and advice to the groups throughout the process and building long-term relationships with and between the communities.

The cities then had an exchange about the infrastructure of community sponsorship programmes, how the programmes relate to traditional resettlement channels and adequate narratives about the relationship between the sponsor group and the sponsored refugees.

You can view a recording of this webinar here:


Katharina Bamberg Policy Advisor - migration


  • In the footsteps of migrants

    How a unique museum of personal migration stories from the past and the present is helping a city of 170 nationalities build a sense of belonging.

    7 minutes read
  • The movement for movement

    How do you attract talent, and how do you enable talent? “It’s two branches of the same issue, working at the same time,” explains Marja Nyrhinen, whose job title, ‘City of Tampere coordinator of talent attraction and migration’ really says it all.

    6 minutes read
  • Sandboxing migration

    Sofia has taken new tack on migrant integration: “Exactly the same way as kids play in their sandboxes,” says Sevdalina Voynova, director of the Sofia Development Association “We’re doing the same thing with engineers and tech people.”

    10 minutes read
  • Go extra large

    “Had it not been for this place, I’d have been on the street;” It is hard to estimate the impact that such migrant-run spaces can have.

    3 minutes read
  • Madrid’s best team

    In Madrid, migrants and locals volunteer together, fuelling integration while fortifying the city with a host of projects from working in animal shelters, to helping people with cognitive impairments, to giving guided tours on local history.

    5 minutes read
  • Design for community

    “It started with storytelling, all the characters from Alexander the Great to Ataturk. Most of the children living in the historic city centre are migrants who don’t know the roots of the place.”

    4 minutes read
  • No one has no skills

    If someone is a mother, Moses tells them “You have a skill: you care. That’s something for you in each and every environment you are in.” If someone was a shepherd, he tells them that means “you are organised, you know how to look after a flock.”

    5 minutes read
  • Welcoming cities

    Cities are the main destination of migrants and refugees, yet cities are not adequately involved in shaping migration policy.

    5 minutes read