One of the main objectives of the COPOCS project is to explore the potential of Community Sponsorship in Poland. In this regard, we are excited to share a table highlighting lists and activities of initiatives we have identified as having "community/refugee sponsorship" potential. The list aims to shed light on the promising landscape of non-governmental and community-driven support in Poland.
To see the table, click the LINK.
While Poland has not introduced a national "community sponsorship" scheme, as seen in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, or Germany, certain elements and activities (e.g., the involvement of individuals and/or community groups in welcoming and supporting refugees and other migrants and contributing to their integration) resembling the concept of "community sponsorship" have been undertaken by NGOs and grassroots organizations. It is important to mention that projects and activities based on or with "community sponsorship" potential could be identified in Poland even prior to the significant influx of Ukrainians following the full-scale war that erupted on February 24, 2022. Because of this reason that changed the landscape of the ways and scope of the support for refugees and migrants in the country, we decided to concentrate here on initiatives run before February 24, 2022. The list is not exhaustive, and more examples could likely be found, especially smaller-scale initiatives that are not widely publicized. Moreover, in some cases, "community sponsorship" elements are not included in the official project description but are undertaken by volunteers or representatives of the organization, making "community sponsorship" elements even more difficult to identify.
To identify the organizations that might run their projects and activities based on the "community sponsorship" idea or at least have some of their activities identified as having "community sponsorship" potential, we used an NGO database available at uchodźcy.info as the primary source of data on NGOs working for or in the interest of foreigners/migrants (archived website - http://uchodzcy.info/kto-juz-dziala/, was created during the 2015-2016 migration crisis, nevertheless presenting the most reliable data on the topic mentioned above). The database identifies 84 entities (NGOs and associations, informal/grassroots groups) at least to some extent dealing with the broader issues of foreigners.
To narrow down and make probable the activities that contain "community sponsorship" elements, entities were selected from the database whose activities involved at least one of the following areas known as important in the “community sponsorship” programmes implemented in other countries (58 organizations were identified):
In addition, entities known to the researchers from activities that were based at least in part on "community sponsorship" activities but not present in the uchodzcy.info database, as well as those identified during press review, were added to the aforementioned database of organizations. As a result, 35 organizations, associations, and informal groups were identified that potentially carried out activities based on the idea of "community sponsorship" or their activities resembled those that could have "community sponsorship" potential.
In the second stage, questionnaires
Due to a lower-than-expected response to the questionnaires sent out (only 9 were answered), an attempt was made to contact by phone representatives of organizations identified as only partially able to implement activities for immigrants using "community sponsorship" elements.
As a result, the presented database demonstrates that elements of "community sponsorship," even if unintentional, were included in some of the implemented projects. In most cases, these elements and actions with "community sponsorship" potential relied on the personal engagement of volunteers (who were providing shelter or specific assistance, like teaching the Polish language or tutoring children) or were based on constructing a network of people supporting a given individual or a family. Based on this, one can assume that housing and education can be precisely a good field to develop "community sponsorship" elements in Poland. This suggests that there is potential to expand this type of support for migrants, even if the national government is not inclined to introduce a legal framework for an official "community sponsorship" scheme. Furthermore, religious organizations and those based on volunteering and local community engagement often choose to incorporate actions similar to those found in countries with "community sponsorship" programs as part of their resettlement and refugee integration efforts.
 We understand “community sponsorship” as a concept that relies on the public-private partnership, i.e. the cooperation between the state and private actors, including civic society organisations (often faith-based). The state takes responsibility for the legal admission of refugees, while private actors support them in their reception and integration after their arrival.
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