When Nina’s Syrian refugee guest (hosted through Refugees At Home) got a job in Poole near Bournemouth, she knew he had to move from her house in Epsom, Surrey. But Ahmed had no income yet, no deposit saved, nowhere in Poole to call home.
Refugees At Home tried its usual routes: Facebook and Twitter mostly, but nobody stepped forward to offer Ahmed a place to stay whilst he found his feet and received his first pay. So Nina, who is part of the City of Sanctuary group in Epsom, contacted the CoS network and asked for help.
Within hours two volunteers had come forward to host. They applied on the website www.refugeesathome.org. Quickly the Refugees At Home team assigned a Home Visitor to go and meet the potential hosts. The Home Visitors are district nurses, doctors or social workers – people with a professional background in home assessment, but working as volunteers. They help ensure placements are safe and well-informed.
The hosts got all the details – everything Refugees at Home knew about Ahmed was passed on – and of course they had a reference from Nina. And only a couple of days later, he was on his way to Poole, settled in with the host nearest to his new job and ready to start work.
Hosting can help asylum-seekers and refugees in transition and onto the next stage in their lives. Refused asylum seekers are frequently homeless and destitute. Refugees recently granted status can also be without anywhere to live: just 28 days after the grant of refugee status, people are evicted from asylum-seeker accommodation. But that’s not long enough to sort out a bank account, benefits, a job – all pre-requisites to finding somewhere to live. The Refugee Council estimates 80% of recent refugees are destitute.
Refugees At Home has made about 1,400 placements and has now hosted for over 95,000 individual person nights. About 150 people are hosted every night, many in London and the Home Counties but also in Bristol and Cardiff, Brighton and Cambridge, Manchester and Birmingham – actually in many cities throughout the UK.
It urgently needs more hosts – especially in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff – but any city might well be helpful.
Do you have a spare room, a generous heart and empathy with the challenges faced by so many asylum-seekers and refugees? If so and you would like to host, please email [email protected] or apply to host at www.refugeesathome.org