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19 April 2021

Help support King's refugee sponsorship scheme

Discover how you can support King’s commitment to be a Refugees Welcome University.

The Al Shaabin family with members of the Peckham Sponsors Refugees local residents group
Al Shaabin family with members of the Peckham Sponsors Refugees local residents group © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

In February 2020, King’s was named the first Refugees Welcome University by community organising charity Citizens UK. As part of our commitment to support refugees, King’s has been working with Citizens UK, the Home Office and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to become the first university to be accredited as a Community Sponsor as part of the UK Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme. Once fully approved, we will resettle a vulnerable refugee family who have been identified by the UNHCR on the basis of their protection need.

The King’s refugee sponsorship scheme will provide an extraordinary opportunity for a refugee student, who has been displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict, and their family to find a new and welcoming home in London, and for the student to attend King’s to complete an undergraduate degree. The student will have successfully completed a foundation course through one of the flagship initiatives in our Sanctuary Programme.

Forced migration particularly impacts young people, disrupting their education and potentially creating a ‘lost generation’ with limited prospects. King’s is committed to building new partnerships with refugees and their families that offer important new opportunities for renewal, sustainment and growth that are of great benefit to both the families and the UK.

Professor Bronwyn Parry, Interim Vice President & Vice Principal for Service and co-lead of the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme

In addition to providing a full scholarship for the student to further their education, King’s will provide their family with structured all-round support, which includes finding appropriate accommodation in Southwark or Lewisham.

Many other communities have successfully taken part in the UK Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme. For example, the Peckham Sponsors Refugees group recently involved over 100 residents to welcome and support the Al Shaabin family in 2019, which included finding and redecorating a home.

We hope the King's community will come together to transform the lives of a refugee family and help them make London, and King’s, their home.

The resettlement support group helped me a lot. Without them, I could not have survived in the UK.

Hassan Al Shaabin, a Syrian resettled in London with the support of Peckham Sponsors Refugees

Would you like to help? If so, here’s how:

Help us find the family a home

Our most immediate priority is to find a five-bedroom property in either Southwark or Lewisham for the family to rent at an affordable rate. If you are able to help or know someone who might be able to offer support, please get in touch with the King’s Resettlement Support (KRES) team:


We are raising funds for the King's refugee sponsorship scheme. Our current priorities are to:

  • Help the family pay their rent if welfare benefits are not sufficient to cover the rental costs.
  • Decorate and furnish the property.
  • Enhance the support we can provide through the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme.

To make a donation, visit the King’s donation page and select 'King’s Sanctuary Programme' option from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the form.

If you have any questions or want to donate in a different way, please contact

Spread the word

Tell your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and anyone else who might help us welcome the family to King’s. Share this news story and invite individuals to get in touch with the KRES team:

If you want to share information about the King's refugee sponsorship scheme and require content (e.g. visual assets, template emails), please contact

Join the King’s Resettlement Support team

The KRES team coordinates the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme and will support the family when they arrive and as they settle in London. They will offer a range of advice and support covering a range of areas including education, employment, health and language skills. The team are looking for King's students, staff, alumni and community partners to act as volunteers, including one-off, short-term and longer-term roles. If you would like to help, please register your interest using this form.

It just works. But it's a two way thing because actually the community gets a huge amount out of it as well.

Member of a community sponsorship group in Barnstaple, North Devon

About the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme

The UK Refugee Community Sponsorship scheme enables community organisations to sponsor a refugee family brought to the UK by the UNHCR and to support them in settling in their local area. Over the past two years, King’s has worked together with the Home Office, UNHCR and Citizens UK to develop the King's refugee sponsorship scheme. Working closely with our partners and Southwark and Lewisham Councils, the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme will be the first time that a university will act as the sponsoring community.

The King’s refugee sponsorship scheme is part of the King's Sanctuary Programme, which offers a range of practical, Service-led initiatives in response to the global issue of forced migration. These initiatives are key in delivering on our commitment to be an international community that serves the world.

The King's refugee sponsorship scheme is led by Professor Bronwyn Parry (Interim Vice President & Vice Principal, Service) and Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries (Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Chair of the Migration Research Group), with support from the KRES team.

Having established this university community sponsorship scheme, it is the project team's hope that they will set a precedent for other UK Higher Education Institutions to become community sponsors. They are keen to share their knowledge and experience in order to encourage and support other universities to help resettle refugees. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with the KRES team:

Our wider ambition is to encourage and support other UK universities to become community sponsors. We are working together with a range of universities to realise this goal and demonstrate the transformative impact that the higher education sector can have on individuals whose lives have been disrupted by forced migration.

Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Chair of the Migration Research Group and co-lead of the King’s refugee sponsorship scheme

In this story

Bronwyn Parry

Visiting Professor

Leonie  Ansems de Vries

Reader in International Politics