Dear Home Visitors,
Refugee Week 19-25 June 2017
This is the next big event in our calendar – and we have lots going on, although this year it falls at the end of Ramadan which might inhibit some of our guests from taking part.
R@H admin team members are at the V&A museum next Friday, the 23rd, and at University of Westminster on the Saturday morning, plus we have given interviews that will appear on all sorts of TV, newspapers, magazine, newswires and whatever else over the week, so keep an eye out for us.
But the big event for us is the Our Shared Future open event at the Royal Festival Hall on the SouthBank on Saturday 24th from 12-5. Please come along and have a seat at our kitchen table- have a biscuit and a chat with fellow hosts, home visitors and guests, we’ll have some toys and activities to keep children entertained….and then go and sample the food, music and colour all around the Southbank. It is always a great fun event- it would be good to see you there, even if briefly. And have I mentioned the biscuits?
Loads of our friends, ex-guests, supporters and partner organisations have fantastic events going on in the next few weeks too. A few highlights here
- Rachel Mantell, one of our core team, is speaking at the 17th June Syrian Iftar https://www.facebook.com/events/245394132607667/
- Georgia Ladbury, a south London host, has arranged a great cake swap on Streatham Common for the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox- this and loads more events here https://www.facebook.com/events/1470820842951872/
- The Great Get Together/Big Lunch might be an opportunity for you to recruit hosts from among your neighbours – we are as ever keen for more, especially in London, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and, unexpectedly Gloucester and High Wycombe. I have booked my guest to demonstrate the benefits of hosting – he is on bunting-erection duty at our street party. Could you do anything more British?
- On 19th June, one of our Cambridge Home Visitors, Glenys Newton is telling stories that connect us https://www.facebook.com/events/464744517198676/
- Also on 19th June Hassan Akkad (of Bafta-winning Exodus fame, and one of our first guests) and HelpRefugees are hosting an afternoon at the V&A https://www.facebook.com/events/270218873446416
- And on 23rd and 24th, our very first guest, Ahmad al Rashid (also from Exodus) is part of the Living Library at the V&A, hosted by the migration collective. This is a chance to ask him questions about his experience.
There is loads more going on- it’s a busy and exciting few weeks! We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible.
Doing things quickly
We currently have 289 outstanding Home Visits, of which 71 are in London. Quite a few of the non-London ones are because they are very rural or we don’t have a visitor in the area. Some of them of course were only assigned really recently.
Plus a number of would-be hosts seem to take on building works or parenthood within moments of pressing send on the form and then don’t want to be visited just yet.
But we would so appreciate it if you could do a visit within a week of agreeing to take it on – unless you are away or somesuch, when it would be nice to know.
And on a similar theme, it’s quite likely that we will pounce on a new host as soon as you say they are OK, especially if they will host men and/or are in London. We have ten guests in the urgent file right now – people who are street homeless or rough sofa surfing and we want to place today or this week. Plus there are 12 on the required list. Only two of that 22 are female. And there are others who are parked awaiting more information or a decision on suitability. So when you say go, we go…. You may want to tell hosts that.
Placements & Summer hosting.
We have now hosted for over 29,000 person nights – the magic 30,000 looms.
We had made 580 placements by 15 June. But it is getting tight as the kiddies come back from uni and people think about summer hols.
Some people are happy to leave their guests in situ when they go away, a few positively prefer it, but most ask us to find alternative hosts when they go away.
If hosts ask, you might mention that earlier this week, a guest foiled a burglary at his hosts’ house. They had flown off to Majorca, leaving their Syrian guest behind. The very next day he came home from work at 0040 to find the house had been burgled. He rang me, I rang 999 and went over (you don’t all get this service – the host in question is my sister-in-law). The police came quite quickly. They said he had disturbed the burglars who saw him return and fled. Nothing was taken. The police said his presence had made all the difference.
A guest in residence can water the plants, feed the cat and makes a successful burglary less likely. And we have NEVER had an allegation of theft against one of our guests.
You may have noticed the core team have been a tad frazzled recently – although we hope it hasn’t impinged too much: we have been grossly overworked and we all have “proper” jobs and/or toddlers, elderly parents, demanding partners or all of the above.
Plus the holiday season looms and we were really concerned that we just wouldn’t be able to keep up and try to help all the guests referred over the summer. So we are taking on a placements administrator for three months.
Many of you will get to talk to Jodie Anderson, who is an immigration barrister, an emergency host, has helped with our social media and is an all round good egg. Please say yes should she ask you to visit someone!
And if you have a brilliant idea for how we should fund-raise to cover a salary, that would be great too. Do e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Changes you asked for
We’ve had feedback that hosts want to be told after their Home Visit that all is well and that they are approved to host – so we have introduced a letter to say just that –and another one to inform you all when someone is placed with one of “your” hosts so you can offer them support. I hope that helps you feel clearer about your role and when we would like you to spring into action.
For the first time in my life I bought Vogue magazine this week- Because on page 65 there is the story of Samantha and her guest. It’s really moving and inspiring. You can read it here: http://www.refugeesathome.org/2017/06/1701/
The implication might be that you need to be beautiful with an immaculate house to host but most of us know that isn’t the case, and Samantha says Vogue brought along the clothes and make-up. It’s a lovely article and we have had our first new host application from it already.
Just the regular reminder that our Resource Database is getting bigger all the time and we hope you can use it to help your hosts and their guests access the advice and help they need. You can find it at http://refsource.gebnet.co.uk/
All the best for now and looking forward to Eid at the end of Ramadan, do have a lovely summer.
All our thanks.
Sara, and the core admin team
Refugees At Home