BUDE Refugee Support Group has been honoured with a national award at a ceremony which took place at Canada House by Sponsor Refugees, a pioneering scheme to welcome refugee families.

Penny Dane and Ellie Stacey picked up the award for Community Sponsorship Group of the Year after the Bude group was recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in London for pioneering work resettling Syrian refugee families through the government’s Community Sponsorship scheme.

Under the scheme, community groups take on the lead responsibility for welcoming and supporting a refugee family in their neighbourhood. It allows Syrian families who are currently living in refugee camps in the Middle East to come to the UK through a safe and legal route.

The scheme is becoming a well-established part of the UK government’s refugee resettlement effort and takes its inspiration for work pioneered in Canada, which has resettled 300,000 refugees since it began in 1978.

Around 200 community sponsorship groups have now formed around the country, and refugee families are arriving through sponsorship on an almost weekly basis. The scheme has high-profile backing from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who have both urged their congregations to get involved.

The Bude group felt they had to do something to respond to the refugee crisis. They have already welcomed two families — being the first group in the UK to do this — as well as helping groups around the South West plan and settle their own families.

Penny said: “This award is for all our volunteers and supporters who have worked tirelessly to help our families to a better life in the UK.”

Ellie added: “When times seem bleak in the world, it’s so cheering to be in the company of so many others doing good as community sponsors.”

Tim Finch, director of Sponsor Refugees, the Citizens Foundation for Community Sponsorship, which organised the awards, said: “Sponsor Refugees relies on thousands of quiet heroes from all walks of life, the inspiring winners from this year’s award shows that the proud British tradition of welcoming refugees is alive and well.”