Dear Hosts & Home Visitors,

We have decided you have so much in common that one newsletter will serve all of you – and there is a greater chance of me producing is slightly more often if I am only doing one!

Christmas is coming…

Honestly, the summer is barely over and some leaves are still on the trees but we are thinking ahead to the Xmas holidays already. Last year we had to do a major reshuffle because lots of hosts either had kiddies returning from college or the family descending en masse and couldn’t accommodate their guest at the same time.

So we are asking two things:

  1. If you know you can’t host over Xmas, please inform us early. It will be hard to re-host those who have to move.
  2. If you can offer space or more space from mid December to early January, or know someone who can, do please let us know as early as possible. Then we can draw up our mega-chart and make plans.

Taking on a full-time employee (or two)

Jodie has gone (though thank goodness she is still volunteering in placements but, as a busy barrister, may be a tad busy). We welcome as our new placements adminstrator, Rachel Davenport, who started mid September, and is already a trusty Home Visitor who has volunteered substantially in Calais.

We had hoped an Afghan refugee, who worked as a translator for Camp Bastion and then for Medecins Sans Frontieres, was going to join us but he has been lured back to the conflict zones by MSF, so we will be recruiting a second person over the next month or so. Placements has got so busy, we don’t think just one person can cope.

That’s why we are asking for your help in fundraising to meet our new employment costs, you should have received our appeal email yesterday, with a link to our Just Giving page.

Please pass it on! We would welcome any ideas you might have now to Donna Williams, who chairs our fundraising committee at treasurer@refugeesathome.org

Awards

Not that we are ones to blow our own trumpets, but we just won a grant from Catalyst London and were short-listed for the recent Community Integration Awards. Maybe we can win it next year.

Change to the Home Visitor assessment form

We have recently tweaked this form – used by the HV crew to assess new hosts – to make the need to address guest vulnerabilities a little clearer.

Could all the HVs please use this form from now on.

Parson’s Green and hosting

We were very worried – of course for all the victims – but also for the implications for hosting of the arrests around the Parson’s Green tube bombing. Just one young man has been charged so far, with the Syrian refugee being released without any further action as of no interest to police inquiries – it seems he was just unlucky enough to have stayed in the same fostering household.

We do have guidance about what you should do if you think your guest might be in danger of being radicalised and what to look out for.

You can see it here.

So far, we have only ever made one Prevent referral – for a past guest who had worried his hosts. And we remember that until now, not one refugee has been charged with terrorism in the UK in at least the last decade.

Please contact your Home Visitor or the admin team if you have concerns.

Extra work for volunteers.

Ruth, who is working on building our volunteer team, says that we really do need someone who can help with IT, for example to manage the database and maybe to help develop a new one.

Plus she would love people who want to run hubs in their areas to get in touch – or even someone who would like to volunteer to co-ordinate ALL our hub operations.

Samim Bigzad update

You may have seen the story about the young Afghani asylum-seeker, the son of a British citizen, detained in Brook House (yes, the Panorama one) and deported back to Kabul in September.

But you may not have realised that he is one of ours and had been hosted happily in Kent for several months before he was detained.

His lawyers, Duncan Lewis, obtained an injunction from the High Court to order that he NOT be flown on from Istanbul to Kabul. The Home Ofice got it in time but chose to take no notice. It took two more High Court judges and an Appeal Court judge to get the Home Office to obey the courts and bring him back to his waiting host and her cat, both very pleased to see him safe home.

Amber Rudd had to answer questions about her contempt on the Andrew Marr Show and then Samim and his lawyer appeared on Newsnight.

We don’t campaign and lobby – we just host – but we did join in to try and get one of our own guests brought home and were jolly relieved when he did return safe and sound – and NOT back into detention.

Another Facebook page?

We are starting a closed group for hosts and Home Visitors and other supporters, so that we can pass on information about opportunities for your guests, what’s going on and so that people can exchange information and tips. The current page is really wholly focused on finding and matching and placing and we think it’s right to keep that function separate. Do people think another, more collaborative, forum might be useful or even fun?

Next time, we will be sending round the guest welcome pack again as we have so many new hosts. …plus news, views and statistics.

In the meantime,

All our thanks.

Sara and the team
Refugees At Home
www.refugeesathome.org
facebook.com/refugeesathome
twitter.com/refugeesathome