Family Referral by the Home Office
The Process Begins!
In this module, we assume that you have received full approval from the Home Office, and are now ready to be referred a family.
Step One: Completing the Property Offer Form
Once you are approved, the Home Office will ask you to complete a Property Offer Form. This form is used to help them to find a suitable match.
You will need to send this to your Local Authority - and they will need to approve it and send it to the Home Office.
Below is some guidance on answering the questions:
Maximum age for children sharing rooms
You will need to check your Local Authority's guidelines on this. Typically,
- two children aged 0-9 can share a bedroom whatever their sex
- two children aged 0-15 can share a bedroom if they are the same sex
But this slightly varies across councils.
Can the area cater for people: requiring serious medical treatment*/ requiring regular medical treatment** / requiring any psychological treatment / special educational needs / workplace needs
*Serious Medical Needs: people with acute medical conditions, who require surgery, have a serious chronic and/or progressive condition (e.g., cancer, dialysis).
**Regular Medical: people with less serious medical conditions who require regular access to a hospital/doctor (e.g., diabetes, asthma).
Families with medical needs often have to wait a very long time to be resettled, because they require different size properties or properties with specific characteristics. The UK will be focusing on resettling people who have been waiting the longest, and so we are likely to see more families with medical needs referred.
We know this might sound a little daunting - but we have seen groups successfully raise to the challenge time and again - and genuinely save lives as a result.
When answering these questions, it is important to consider whether the family could access the care they need. Would they be able to get to hospitals easily on public transport? Is there sufficient mental health provision in your area? Are there any specialist charities who could provide psychological support?
It is more likely that someone with severe physical or mental health problems or SENs might not be able to work. If you are in a very expensive area, is it feasible for the family to live sustainably on social welfare payments alone?
You should seek advice from your Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group when making this decision.
Please state the languages of families you are able to support
Until now, most resettled families have been from Syria, and spoke either Arabic or Kurdish. From 2021, resettlement is broadening to people from other nationalities - though we are expecting that the majority of families will still be from Syria for the foreseeable future. Here are a list of nationalities who could resettle through the scheme, and what languages they speak:
Do you have other information about the local area or the property that may help us to make a good match?
This is your opportunity to say anything that the Home Office should take into consideration when finding a good match.
For example, you could explain...
- We are in a very rural area, and there is no access mosques or halal food
- We are very far from a hospital, and could not support regular medical visits
- There are no school spaces for children in Year 4 or 7
- There is a large Kurdish population in your area, and our group has many Kurdish speakers
- The rent may not be affordable for a family with more than 3 children, due to the benefits cap - so you might need to welcome a multi-generational family to overcome this.
Step Two: Writing a 2-page Information Sheet
The Home Office will also ask you to prepare a 2-page information sheet about your area and group. This will be given to the family, and will help them decide whether or not to accept the match. See this Page for templates and guidance.
Step Three: Matching and MOVE It
The next step involves the Home Office sending you quite detailed and personal information about a family they believe to be suitable. This information goes only to a couple of senior members of the group - you can nominate who they are, but it usually is the Chair and the DSL - via a secure portal system called MOVE It.
The full details of the history, including potentially quite sensitive health issues, should not be shared more widely - certainly not in writing. But the Chair and DSL will need to share verbally as much information as is needed for the wider Group to make up its mind as to whether to accept the referral.
- The Home Office will ask you to complete a MOVEIt Access form. You will need to give the names and email addresses of the 2 people from the group who you want to access the family's files.
- Complete the form. The email addresses provided must be private, and match the person's name (i.e. you can't use a generic email such as [email protected])
- Email form to [email protected] Cc. your Lead Sponsor, and all named people on the form
- Each person must reply to this email, to confirm that it is their correct email address.
- You will receive instructions for how to access MOVEIt.
- This is the difficult bit - You can only access MOVEIt on a secured, password protected computer which is not used by anyone else, and it cannot be a personal device. This could include:
- Your work laptop, which is secure and not accessed by anyone else (e.g. a school laptop, which has password protection)
- Your Lead Sponsor's work laptop
- Your Local Authority rep's work laptop
7. Delete downloaded files from your computer once you have read them
Step Four: Making Big Decisions
Making this decision is one of the hardest things a Group has to do. It can be emotionally draining, particularly if you decide that, for whatever reason, you do not think the family would be suitable. Previous Groups have described this stage as 'playing God'.
But remember, a Community Sponsorship is not just about evacuating a refugee family from one place to a safer one. You also have to consider how well the refugee family will do in their new home - their chances of integrating well and living independently. So the Group should consider the following factors:
- Is the area really suitable for the referred family?
- Are the needs of the family something the Group can cope with? (For example, if the family has complex mental health needs, will your volunteers be able to handle that, particularly if statutory services may be inadequate in your area?)
- What about the longer term integration of the family? (For example, if you are in a high cost area where living long-term on benefits is challenging, you might need to welcome a family with a good chance of the adults bring able to find decent employment within a year or so.)
What Happens If You Decline A Referred Family?
Should your Group feel that it couldn't cope with the referred family or that the family would struggle in your area, then you really should decline the match. It is a tough thing to do, but best in the long run.
But remember, by declining to accept a referred family you are not knocking them off the list for resettlement or pushing them to the back of the queue. The Home Office will be seeking an alternative arrangement for this family who will never know you declined.
The Home Office is very understanding in these situations and will immediately move to find another suitable match. There might be some time lag, but it usually isn't more than a few days.
It's A Match!
Hopefully - and usually - the first referral is a good match, in which case you can indicate that via email or a phone call to the Home Office. Then you can begin preparing for Stage Two of the planning process!
You will have been given some very sensitive files about the family. It is important to have clear guidelines about what information you share to group members, and beyond the group. We have prepared some template guidelines below - If we are your Lead Sponsor, we expect you to follow these.