End of Sponsorship Period
From the beginning of the sponsorship period, it is important to highlight to the sponsored family the extent of your commitment. Namely, communicate as soon as possible after the family’s arrival that the sponsorship period lasts for 18 months, and that you are not obliged to provide financial and/or settlement support beyond this timeframe. It is important that you reiterate this throughout the sponsorship period so that both the group and family are aware of the exact date when the sponsorship ends. It’s a good idea to discuss the steps you plan to take together during the sponsorship period in anticipation of its conclusion, including English language learning, employment opportunities, orientation goals and so on, depending on the family’s needs.
Ultimately, the goal of community sponsorship is that the family becomes self-sufficient and independent by the end of the sponsorship period. This may not always happen. That said, it is up to your group to decide whether to continue support past the sponsorship period, and in what capacity. If you plan to continue financial support you must check that this does not result in the family being ineligible to receive certain social assistance and payments.
End of Sponsorship Preparation
Your group should continually work with the family towards self-sufficiency throughout the sponsorship period. Some benchmarks of self-sufficiency include, but are not limited to: proficient English language skills obtained, employment/self-employment secured with sufficient income to cover living expenses; and, the ability to conduct day-to-day tasks such as paying bills, paying rent, budgeting, navigating the local area and accessing local transport networks.
Key considerations and tasks when the sponsorship period is coming to an end include:
Meet with the refugee family at the mid-sponsorship point and two to three months before the sponsorship period ends to discuss how they are doing, their goals and the support you are providing and willing to continue to provide. Specifically, you can focus on adjustments needed leading to the end of the sponsorship. These meetings are important to manage expectations.
Hold separate group meeting/s to discuss adjustments needed in the support as well as what support, if any, to continue providing after the sponsorship period ends.
Assess the settlement needs of the refugee family before the sponsorship period comes to an end (i.e. any assistance required during the transition and post-sponsorship period/ your groups’ relationship with the family in the post-sponsorship period).
It Is important that you do not feel disheartened or discouraged if the family are not completely self-sufficient by the end of the sponsorship period. Integration is a long-term process which can take many years and is influenced by a number of factors. Your group is the start of this integration process and it may be unrealistic to expect the family to be fully integrated into Irish society by the end of the sponsorship period. If the family are not self-sufficient they will still be entitled to apply for and avail of social welfare, housing and employment training supports; healthcare services; and community activities and social support groups, as before.
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