Community Sponsorship Awards 2019

Tuesday 8th October,  Canada House, London


I was honoured to attend the Community Sponsorship Awards on behalf of the Uplyme Community Sponsorship group this week. It felt more than slightly surreal to be hosted in the grandeur of Canada House by those working to support the resettlement of families fleeing unimaginable conditions in Syria and living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries while Extinction Rebellion was camping just outside in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere in London by choice to protest at government inaction on climate chaos and biodiversity loss.

Both places made me feel humbled by ordinary people's bravery and humanity in doing what they can to make life better for those they may never know. The Community Sponsorship Awards evening was uplifting and inspiring. Claudia Hammond from BBC Radio 4 presented the evening alongside Hani Arnaout, the father of the family resettled in Ottery St Mary by the Abide group and local community and a film was shown featuring Hani's family's experience of moving to East Devon.

There were heart-warming stories of creativity and community empowerment from around the UK; Ireland, winner of the International Award and Canada, where the community sponsorship programme began in 1979. People working together with friends, neighbours and strangers across religious, ethnic, social and political differences told powerful stories of innovative fundraising, immense but rewarding hard work and warm welcomes and continuing support for resettled families.

It is a privilege to be part of Uplyme Community Sponsorship as we continue our fundraising efforts and collate our research into a resettlement plan to be submitted to Devon or Dorset Council before Home Office approval to resettle a family from Syria in our community.

Never underestimate the difference people working together can make to help others.

Please join this remarkable global initiative by helping your local community sponsorship group.  


Belinda Bawden

13th October 2019

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