Welcome back after the summer. We did have a slight lessening of activity in August – partly because many of us: hosts and admin, were away. Fortunately, so were a number of referrers.
But we are certainly in full swing now. We already know to be prepared for Easter, Ramadan and August, now we have another season to add to those we are learning about in our first year: September means requests, mostly from young people with refugee status, for accommodation near where they hope to study. So far that has included Kingston-on-Thames, Nottingham, Leeds, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge. We have recruited a number of new hosts (mostly through Facebook) but, as ever, we could do with more, especially across London and within the M25 but also other towns and cities. The appetite of our guests for really rural locations is still limited.
We have (mid-September) made 154 placements. These vary in length and number of people – a placement may be one person for one night or three people for months. Our longest so far is the latter: an Iranian family of three who have been hosted in Surrey since 11 March. They now have refugee status – a joy all round.
We have now hosted for 4800 person nights, which is amazing.
This month we can tell you about our resources database. This has been created by our long-term volunteer, Kathleen Ross. She says:
“Whilst volunteering for Refugees at Home, I created a database of resources. The aim was for this to become more widely available, and to create a growing, changing index of organisations which offer help and support. I eventually decided to collate these into a website, named Migrant Resource.
The site is constructed in a Blog format; there is a search option, or one can use the site ‘tags’, shown when clicking the menu button. All the current resource categories are displayed on the home page.
I welcome any constructive dialogue and suggestions for the site; contributions can be submitted on the Contact page.”
This edition’s stories: we had a call one Friday (my stories always seem to start like this – it’s as predictable as “once upon a time!”) An immigration lawyer had a couple sitting in her office: Iranians, only Farsi-speaking, he’s 81 and his wife barely younger. They had been staying with their refugee son but he had thrown them out due to his own problems. Could we help? A few calls later and they were being taken – by convoy as they had one or two, OK eight, bags – to our lovely hosts in West London. They leapt out and bought a Farsi phrasebook and hosted that weekend. Then we had to move them to another host – who took them, the eight bags AND, crucially, the Farsi Phrasebook. Apparently they are a lovely couple, the only thing is they will have to move on soon, so I would appreciate offers – I don’t think it has to be in London…
The other was a young woman with a 20 day old baby who had, rather foolishly, left Newport as soon as she got status and made her way to London with no idea what she would do when she got there. But, 20 days post-partum, who has any sensible ideas? Our youngest host took them in for the weekend and has now said they can stay the six months it will take to get Local Authority housing. We think that’s amazing.
Finally, one of our hosts, Maarten, features in a series of short films called 1000 Londoners. He is part of a ten-part sub-series, “Looking after London”. You should be able to find him talking about hosting on http://www.1000londoners.com or http://www.1000londoners.com
Once again, very many thanks and good wishes,
Sara and the core team
Refugees At Home