Dear Hosts,

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, just time for the final newsletter of the year in the middle of the rush for sorting everyone out before the jollities start. This is our first Christmas and the admins have been beavering away to try and ensure that none of our guests is left with nowhere to go. Three cheers especially to Ruth – from whom many of you will have heard recently as she checks every arrangement.

The challenge has been that the kids are coming back from uni and want their rooms back, many of you – being hospitable people – have family to stay and others are going on holiday. But we have been blown away by your generosity and flexibility in looking to the welfare of your guests or accommodating new ones. If we call in the next week or so though, we are desperate – so please do what you can. I particularly liked the response: “of course he can stay but can you explain that our kids have to move on to the put-you-ups when the grandparents arrive, and so will he”.  So British!

Aviva appeal

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.

Charitable status

Our lovely – and now triple award-winning – pro bono lawyers, Travers Smith, have worked on this with Donna and we hope to be registered as 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

Placement

We had made 252 placements by 10 December, which is fairly good going. And we have just topped 10,000 hosted nights – quite an achievement.  Our longest staying guests, an Iranian Christian family of three, finally left Surrey on December 1st, having arrived as an emergency on 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.

Testimonials.

I collected these for the Aviva application and thought you might like to see them:

Through Refugees at Home my family has happily hosted over a dozen guests, refugees or asylum seekers, all made destitute by unlucky circumstances; we found the experience beyond rewarding: it changed our lives for the better, and it is true we could do a lot more if transport costs we less high: they eat up most of the budget we can privately afford to help each (or the guest’s own subsistence money).
Connie,  Host, Dorking

I have had 3 guests through Refugees at Home, it is great to be able to do more than just donating and going on demonstrations.
Ms P, host, London

The whole process of hosting was professionally managed by Refugees at Home – communication is clear and the home visit very encouraging. Guests and hosts are really well supported within a caring community.
Ms M Kingston, host, Surrey

Refugees at home made a difference in my new life in the U.K. They provided me with a roof, a kind and welcoming family and through them I was able to get into education and start my Masters.
Mr A, guest, High Wycombe

Through my own experience as a guest “R@H” was and still an one of the best foster and supporter for the vulnerable refugees who were or became homless at their life’s start here in the UK.They are alleviating a big part of the suffering that the homeless refugees are exposed to.
I would like to say a huge thanks for such a wonderful huminiterian work, yes! “R@H and your hosts” were literally my second family here in the UK.
Wish you all the best and success in such wonderful work…
Mr H, guest, Home Counties

R@H approach their task with great understanding and professionalism, so that hosting is successful and immensely rewarding as a result. We can help our guests start to find their feet, but if they were able to travel without having to spend much of their funds on it, their ability to become full members of society would be hugely improved.
Ms S, host, Stockport Manchester

Hosting guests has definitely enriched our family life ; we have become much closer , and the guests are part of our family now. It is lovely to see the guests relax and blossom!
Mrs I, host, Surrey.

I stay with very nice family for five months in Dorking they make me feel like I am among my family they offer the most help they can and support I feel very thankful for them
Mr AM, guest, London

“We host emergency guests and in doing get to meet a brilliant and eclectic mix of people from all walks of life, many from unfathomable hardship. Our guests are invariably polite, grateful and interesting which means that we are able, even with our limited means, to feel like we are making a difference.”
Jodie & Mark, hosts, North London

Helpful Hint

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.

Finally,

A Merry Christmas to all our readers – and a very happy New Year

Sara and the core team

Refugees At Home

www.refugeesathome.org

facebook.com/refugeesathome

twitter.com/refugeesathome