Dear Home Visitors,
Our first Christmas, and our opportunity to say thank you for everything you have done for our guests throughout 2016. Actually, what you have done to help the over 160 asylum-seekers and refugees we have hosted, may be one of the best things that has happened this year.
With the festive season fast approaching, demand is increasing and so is the sense of panic in the admin team! We are trying to ensure that every one of our guests has somewhere warm and dry to stay over the Xmas holidays. You may noticed an increase in requests for home visits to a rather tight timetable. It’s because we need to have everyone in place by about December 20th or Nina, Ruth and I can see ourselves making placements while wrapping presents/stuffing turkey/making latkes/lighting candles. Which is a grim prospect. Do please bear with us when we make impossible requests. And then say yes of course you can do it!
We are really pleased to say that, thanks to all the campaigning and voting, we achieved 11,232 votes – third in our category – and got through to the final round. Our Company Secretary (and host) Donna Williams completed the due diligence, I wrote five essays on what we were going to do with the money. Now we wait for January 10th to see if the judges award us the money. I’m not optimistic and am never doing this again – but who knows? If we win, we can start the travel card scheme in the New Year. If we don’t, we will start it anyhow as soon as we raise some money.
Our lovely – and now triple award-winning – pro bono lawyers, Travers Smith, have worked on this with Donna and we hope to be registered a charity early in 2017. That means we can apply for travel and phone scheme money even if we don’t get the Aviva grant. Plus we will qualify for Gift Aid on any donations from individuals
Placements and figures
We had made 252 placements by 10 December, which is fairly good going. And we have just topped 10,000 hosted nights – quite a achievement. Our longest staying guests, an Iranian Christian family of three, finally left Surrey on December 1st, having arrived as an emergency on March 11th. (256 nights!) They are now in Manchester, where there is a sizeable community. They hope, now they all have refugee status, to be able to find affordable housing there and are already in a hostel.
We have 264 hosts who are ready to host or actually hosting and another 139 unassessed. Some of the latter have come in really recently – several in the South East as a result of this BBC piece about Refugees At Home.
We now have 160 Home Visitors who have a “high” interest in helping Refugees At Home. There are still some holes and pressure points: London is always busy as is Bristol, so if you know anyone in those patches – or in Liverpool – do encourage them to get in touch. They can now register online as a Home Visitor and it’s really very easy.
One of our HVs, Diane Corderoy, who is full of good ideas, wonders whether some Home Visitors might want to use their visits as part of their reflective practice. She suggests using the NMC version but presumably suitable for anyone to use if they wish, whatever their professional background. She advises it may be useful for revalidation.
One of our hosts sent us a Welcome booklet they had prepared to use with their guests so that things that matter/might be helpful about the hosting are clear – even if the guest has little English. I have adapted it to my house as I didn’t know if she wanted her details shared. Do feel free to use it, adapt it, ignore it as you wish.
A Merry Christmas to all our readers – and a very happy New Year
Sara, and the core admin team
Refugees At Home