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Who can sponsor a refugee family? Anyone can be a sponsor! You just need to be over 18 years old and not pose a risk to the safety or well-being of your family or the rest of the sponsoring group. Community sponsorship is voluntary, so you need to have time available to support your family and other group members. Strong commitment and responsibility are essential to help the family adapt to Portugal and be autonomous.

How are sponsor groups formed? Some groups are made up of friends and family and others are made up of neighbors who have never met but who share a desire and a commitment! If you want to form a sponsor group, start by mobilizing people within your networks and contacts and expand to other means. The Community supports this entire process, finding people interested in sponsoring in the area and providing guides and kits with everything needed to mobilize on social media, as well as in person.

How many people can the sponsor group have? There are large groups and smaller ones, but each group is required to have at least 5 members. We recommend between 8 and 12 elements so that the distribution of tasks can be more balanced. The most important thing is that all members of the group share a strong commitment to welcoming refugees into the community and supporting them to rebuild their lives in Portugal. Community sponsorship is voluntary but commitment and strong accountability are essential, as it concerns the lives of extremely vulnerable people.

Which refugees can be supported by the community sponsorship program? The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) identifies the most vulnerable refugees globally where resettlement to Portugal could be a lasting solution. Community sponsorship supports refugees who are chosen by Portuguese government agencies to be resettled in Portugal. These can originate from several countries, and are normally hosted in Turkey, Egypt and, more recently, Jordan. The community sponsorship program is not eligible for applicants for international protection or resettled refugees.

How is the family chosen? Refugees whose lives are at risk in their countries of origin and who do not have conditions of safety and well-being in their countries of first asylum are identified by UNHCR and selected by the Portuguese Government so that they can be resettled in our country. Of the people who arrive in Portugal, some are selected to be sponsored. This is a careful selection that analyzes and matches the families' profiles with those of the sponsoring groups, as well as locations, reception conditions and families' consent.

What is the first step in sponsoring a refugee family? First, sign up for our information session and watch our community sponsorship introduction video. Contact us to answer any questions and so we can guide you through the entire process. The next step is to gather a group of at least 5 people interested and available to be sponsors. Get in touch with the ComUnidade team to have access to all the resources we have available.

What are the main responsibilities of the sponsoring group? The sponsoring group welcomes a refugee family where they live and supports these extremely vulnerable people to rebuild their lives, creating powerful connections, stronger than simple neighbors. The main responsibilities of the sponsoring groups are: • Provide adequate housing for at least 2 years and essential goods • Support the family's financial management and cover additional costs thanks to fundraising campaigns • Assist in learning Portuguese through formal classes and informal conversations, as well as introducing Portuguese and local culture • Presentation of the community, essential services and transport • Assist with registration and access to social and health services, including dentist and psychological support • Support in the search for jobs and/or internships and training • Assist in the inclusion of children in school • Reduce isolation with group and leisure activities • Help the community and services adapt to newcomers

How long is the community sponsorship program? The program aims to promote family autonomy in Portugal. Although the funding only lasts 18 months, the program and support only end when this objective is achieved. Typically, programs tend to last between a year and a half and two years. However, the length of time the sponsoring group is involved depends on how quick the preparation phase is. This phase tends to take between 3 and 6 months, before the family arrives and support truly begins.

What are the phases of the program? The community sponsorship program can be considered to be divided into three phases. The first phase is preparation and includes: • Form a sponsor group of at least 5 people • Complete Training for Community Sponsorship of Refugees (CPCR) • Outline a Reception Plan indicating functions, tasks, budget and planning • Raise additional funds for extra costs • Find and secure suitable accommodation for 2 years • Raise awareness in the local community about the family’s arrival • Greeting the family at the airport The second phase is the development of support: • Make the locality, services and public transport known • Enroll the family in local services and institutions, such as school • Support learning Portuguese and knowledge of Portuguese culture • Support in the job search • Provide emotional support • Facilitate socialization The last phase corresponds to the end of the program and involves: • Support in the process of building autonomy • Analyze the developments achieved and challenges • Celebrate successes and completion of the program • Build closer friendship relationships

Do I need to contribute financially? No. The name "sponsorship" may be misleading but sponsors are not expected to pay any financial contribution. In the community sponsorship program, a protocol is signed with the High Commission for Migration (ACM), covering all expenses for 18 months. The amount involved only covers expenses for family and group support and cannot be used for personal benefit. In addition to the amount transferred by the ACM, it is important that groups develop fundraising actions that can cover some extra expenses such as school supplies, leisure trips or group costs. Groups can count on the support of the Community, which has resources to help develop a fundraising strategy, as well as our partner PPL, a specialist in crowdfunding and fundraising. Both the Community and the ACM carry out mandatory monitoring actions to monitor and analyze which budget is used and which is available.

Does the sponsoring group have to do everything alone? No. The sponsoring group has the greatest responsibility to directly support the family but has the support of the Community throughout the program and beyond, as well as the support of the Local Partner Organization.

What is the role of the Community in supporting sponsors? The Community has the following responsibilities: • helps the group to form, finding people interested in the region; • trains and trains all people involved through the CPCR course; • supports the group in preparing the Reception Plan and budget; • carries out security checks on sponsors; • matches or pairs the sponsoring group with the family; • liaises with national and international services and entities responsible for international protection; • provides support and guidance on all issues; • monitors program development; • assesses the family's progress and support from the sponsoring group; • liaises with Partners in the ComUnidade network; • provides legal, psychological and language learning support; • creates networks and provides connections with other groups and sponsors; • raises awareness among the local community about welcoming refugees; • provides all types of resources and supporting documentation essential for the reception and integration of refugees.

What is the role of the Local Partner Organization? All sponsoring groups must establish a partnership with an organization that works in the area in question. Any organization can be a partner, preferably having a social nature or experience in working with vulnerable populations. The Local Partner Organization (LPO) is the legal representative of the group and provides close support for the sponsoring group and the host family. The LPO is the sponsoring group's link with the ACM, allowing access to the funds provided by it through the signing of a protocol. Their responsibilities are limited to the commitment to support the group if necessary and to deliver the funds transferred by the ACM to the sponsoring group.

How can I ensure that I am doing everything well when welcoming and supporting the family? First, you will have extensive training where you will learn how to deal with essential issues such as intercultural communication; trauma; guarantee the rights and safeguards of the most vulnerable; conflict management; the establishment of limits, among others. You will learn concepts, facts and best practices by exploring case studies, practicing practical exercises and completing tests. Then the sponsoring group will have to develop, with the support of the Community, a Reception Plan where they identify the strategy to be implemented to achieve the different responsibilities and objectives. This will serve as a guide throughout the entire process and can be modified and improved. Throughout the community sponsorship process, the group's activities are monitored and supervised by the Community, which evaluates progress and establishes action plans to correct or improve necessary aspects. The group's actions are also monitored independently by the ACM. The sponsoring group has all the support and guidance they need from the Community team, as well as from CPR and partner entities that can assist with specific issues such as language learning support, psychological support, legal support or fundraising . The Local Partner Organization will also provide close support on more local or urgent issues. We know that this can be demanding work but the sponsoring group will never be alone and will have all the support it needs.

What can I expect from community sponsorship? The best way to look at community sponsorship is to focus on the family and what they can get out of this program. If you are a good sponsor, the family will be very well received, having a support network that they can always count on to rebuild the lives of all family members, with special ingredients: empathy and friendship. Helping to solve one of the biggest humanitarian crises in our history, one family at a time. Community sponsorship is the best way to ensure that refugees resettled in Portugal are able to adapt well to the country, building their own lives with the support of friends and neighbors, to be able to be autonomous and finally recover their time, dreams and lives lost. All studies and analyzes show that through this program, refugees are able to learn the language more easily, find work faster, feel part of the community and feel that they are more like neighbors. This is the greatest satisfaction for sponsors and those who have experienced it say that it is the most rewarding thing they have ever done! According to academic studies, the most important thing that sponsors take away from the experience is: - Individual gains - such as enriched lives, increased self-esteem, reduced loneliness or sense of purpose; - Acquisition of new skills, knowledge and experience; - Friendship and creating strong connections with newcomers and other people in the community; - Better employability; - Feeling of unity within the community, united by a common purpose - More proactive and resilient communities

What are the benefits of community sponsorship? The impacts of community sponsorship are beneficial for everyone involved, whether sponsors, refugees or local communities. Some of the impacts are: • Strengthen the international protection and asylum system as a whole, increasing opportunities for regular and safe admission pathways. Through durable solutions, it is a means of relieving pressure on countries on the front line of reception and asylum; • A more holistic and sustainable integration, allowing effective local inclusion with increased possibilities for accommodation, employment and learning Portuguese. This happens because refugees are able to make the most of the opportunities offered to them, thanks to the proximity and efforts of the host community which, in most cases, becomes something more than just neighbors; • Better inclusion, automatically leading to better social cohesion, promoting positive interactions between the population; • Allows citizens and local communities to be an active part of welcoming refugees, being able to better control local integration processes, while developing, at the same time, integration infrastructures and services that benefit the entire community; • Development of skills, through training and joint work, leading to the empowerment of local communities, strengthening relationships and connections between everyone involved; • Make the most of the will, capacity, commitment and contact networks of citizens and organizations that want to help; • Increased awareness about refugees, leading to an increase in positive perceptions and combating negative narratives based on xenophobic, racist and anti-immigration sentiments; • More united, welcoming, inclusive and resilient communities; • Capitalizing on the positive impacts of migration, such as in the context of labor shortages, population aging, desertification and diversity, among others; • Make a deeper difference than donations or even volunteering!

How can I be a sponsor and be part of a sponsoring group? Just fill out a short questionnaire here or contact us.

What is the Community Partner Network? This is a national network of entities that share a commitment to increasing the potential and implementation of community sponsorship in Portugal. Be part of the ComUnity Partners Network and join associations, NGOs, companies, public and international entities, among others, in the commitment to promote this lasting solution to Portuguese society. Our partners include: • National and international entities such as the ACM, the UNHCR or the IOM; • NGOs that work on reception and integration, as well as human rights such as Amnesty International Ireland, EntreAjuda or SPEAK; • Academic institutions such as the Instituto Superior Técnico, the University of Coimbra or ISCAP; • Companies like Teleperformance, PPL or StoneSoup.

What are the responsibilities of a Community Network Partner Entity? The network's partner entities undertake to publicize community sponsorship of refugees within their structures and contact networks, with the aim of promoting and encouraging the formation of community sponsorship groups for refugees. They can also support you with knowledge or services in your sector or through training or employment opportunities for refugees. They can also support through financing or volunteering within the scope of social responsibility.

What are the benefits of belonging to the ComUnidade Partner Network? As a Partner of the ComUnidade Network, you are supporting those who most want to help, allowing refugees to be welcomed and integrated, being able to rebuild their lives in Portugal. It is helping us to make Portugal a more inclusive country, where families forced to flee they can (finally) find security, well-being and dignity. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the opportunities that the Community has just for you, such as: • Participate in the first national support network for refugee families; • Opportunity for the development and cohesion of your teams; • Specialized and personalized training; • Insertion into peer networks at national and international level, increasing the number of contacts and allowing the sharing of experiences; • Participation in events dedicated to increasing skills, sharing good practices and networking; • Entities become more resilient and creative, being trained and aware of interculturality.

How can I belong to the ComUnidade Partner Network?

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