Meet a local. A Nordic model of community sponsorship for refugees


Community sponsorship programmes aim to support integration of refugees into the new community. Originating from Canada, the model has gained increasing interest throughout Europe in recent years. At this webinar, we will hear about recently launched pilot programmes in the Nordic countries.

The Nordic countries have a tradition of organizing resettlement of refugees as a state-run and -sponsored scheme, involving municipalities during the reception and integration phase. The societal model is anchored in a system of free access to social welfare, housing, health care and education.

Community sponsorship builds on the idea, that local volunteers and organizations can add to government-assisted integration support and play a central role in welcoming refugees. It supports the integration by engaging citizens and local communities in providing emotional, financial, and practical help to newly arrived refugees. The volunteers are committed to foster inclusion and self-sustainability of refugees but do not have to contribute financially.

Recently launched pilot programmes in the Nordic countries are designed for quota refugees within the national resettlement programmes, and in the case of Sweden also for spontaneously arrived refugees with residence permits. Read more about community sponsorship at UNHCR Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries.

At this webinar, we aim to raise awareness, share practical experiences, and discuss the Nordic model of community sponsorship. Speakers join us from organisations and municipalities involved in community sponsorship and similar initiatives in the Nordic countries, as well as from a Danish partnership programme Venner Viser Vej.


13:00 Welcome and introduction to community-based sponsorship in the Nordics
Erika Löfgren, UNHCR Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries
Kaisa Kepsu, Integration Norden, Nordic Welfare Centre
Åsa Ström Hildestrand, Moderator, Nordregio

13:15 Experiences from the Nordic countries
Anna Gezelius, Danderyd municipality, Sweden
Sit Elgeel Abdalkreem Abdalrhman Saber, matched newly arrived, Danderyd, Sweden
Leigh Neil, welcoming guide, Danderyd, Sweden
Þórunn Pálína Jónsdóttir, Amnesty International, Iceland
Johanna Matikainen, Red Cross, Finland
Mads Tanning Vestergaard, Venner viser vej (Friends show the way), Red Cross, Denmark

14:15 Panel discussion: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward

14:50 Concluding remarks: Is there a Nordic model of community sponsorship?

We look forward to welcoming you to an afternoon of collaborative learning, where we will approach the specifics of the Nordic countries when it comes to implementing a community sponsorship model.