Ellingham and Ringwood Rugby Club is calling on the community to help find accommodation to support a refugee family.

This comes after the Home Office approved an application from the club for the community sponsorship scheme.

The club partnered with the Portsmouth Diocese of Caritas to make an application to resettle a family in the area.

Mark Johnson, the director of rugby at the club who has been leading the project, said: “The approval is conditional on the club finding suitable accommodation for the family. The club is looking for property to rent and is keen to hear from any potential landlords.”

He added: “The Home Office/ UN match a family to whatever we can provide. The basic search has been for a three bedroom house to be able to accommodate a two parent and three child family. That was the thinking but should it be we can only get a two bedroom place it doesn’t matter - you have to start somewhere otherwise you can’t search. It just has to be a suitable property.”

Mark says due to the coronavirus pandemic it is unclear when the UN will be able start flying families over to the UK.

The club first started talking about the sponsorship scheme in November last year. And last month approval was granted.

“We are extremely proud [to have got approval] for a couple of reasons,” said Mark. “It is quite an achievement in the short time frame - we applied ourselves to it really well.”

Mark believes the club is the first sports club in the UK to get involved in the community sponsorship scheme, adding: “I hope others will follow suit.”

Mark was inspired to start up the project after attending a meeting involving Caritas, adding: “I went along to listen and thought a rugby club is really well suited to do this so I took this idea to the committee and they gave me the thumbs up and so we got going.”

Mark says due to the coronavirus pandemic it is unclear when the UN will be able to start flying families over to the UK.

“I personally won’t be celebrating until they have arrived and are settled. Until then it is still a bit theoretical. I’m extremely excited,” he added.

“It is frustrating because we have come so far and yet which ever family it is they are still stuck and at this stage there is nothing I can do about it.

“We keep asking people to do a shout out for a us to get property and hope the coronavirus restriction is lifted sooner rather than later. This wait is quite frustrating but we just have to keep pushing forward and get the family here.”

To potential landlords out there he said: “You are going to give a family a chance to build there life here and become part of society and contribute to our society,

Anyone who can help email info@rugby4refugees.com