FAQ

Refugees at Home is a small UK based charity aiming to connect those with a spare room in their home with asylum seekers and refugees in need of accommodation.

  1. How do I apply to host, to be a home visitor, to volunteer or to refer a guest?
    Please follow the link you need — hosting form, home visitor form, volunteer form, guest referral
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  2. Who are we trying to help?
    The people we are trying to help are:
    1. People who have been granted refugee status following a successful asylum application (or others in similar circumstances who have been permitted to remain in the UK) but who then have to vacate their housing within 28 days - in spite of having had no time to find somewhere else and get a job.
    2. Asylum seekers, meaning people who have applied for asylum and whose application is ongoing. This includes people who have arrived in the UK informally and reported to the Home Office.
    3. People who have been refused asylum and are appealing. This includes people of a range of nationalities, including Syrians, Iraqi, Afghani and Somali.
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  3. Is hosting safe?
    We know that hosts and guests may feel worried about being with a stranger. We work hard to make sure that everyone involved is safe. All our hosts are assessed by a Home Visitor who is someone who has a professional background in home assessment which means they have the skills to assess people in their homes. They explain what is involved in hosting and take up references on the hosts.
    Our guests are usually referred by refugee agencies, such as the Refugee Council or The Red Cross and who we often know the people making those referrals. We send guidance to referrers, explaining what is involved in hosting and we ask them to confirm that their client is suitable. We also accept a few self-referrals and take up references for those people. When we ask a host to consider a guest we send them the guest’s referral form and arrange to the host and referrer or guest to talk or meet up before they decide if they want to go ahead.
    We ask the referrer and the home visitor to keep in touch with the guest and host during the hosting period and R@H are available to help if there are any issues to deal with.
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  4. How do Refugees At Home check the hosts?
    We are aware that our guests may be very vulnerable as they are in a strange country with limited resources and contacts and possibly limited English. Guests may be worried that an offer of hosting may open them up to exploitation.
    Our Home Visitors are asked to visit the host’s home and ideally meet everyone in the household and see the accommodation being offered. They will also ask about any restrictions on their offer (some hosts prefer to host a female guest for example) and will check that the hosts have thought through what hosting might be like.
    Hosts know that they should not expect any rent, financial contribution or services from guests in return for their room.
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  5. How do Refugees At Home check the guests?
    We ask the referrers to explain what their client’s situation is and whether they are suitable for hosting. We have clear guidance about what this means and many of our referrers have worked with us on previous occasions so have a really good idea about this. We do not host minors, people who have substance misuse problems or serious mental health problems and any criminal issues must be disclosed (some asylum seekers are arrested for offences like using false travel documents or trespassing at the place they arrive, so we do host some guests with criminal convictions. We assess on a case by case basis and always share full details with the host)
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  6. What happens after a guest arrives?
    There is always someone available to talk to if you need help, advice or have any concerns. We ask the Home Visitor to call the host and check how it is going after a week, and the host, Home Visitor or referrer can contact the admin team by phone or email at any time. Our placement administration team can be reached during working hours, and there is someone available at weekends and in the evening too. Guests have their referrer’s contact details and this is usually their first point of contact if there is anything they need to discuss.
    Refugees At Home assumes it is matching consenting and informed adults who will take responsibility for their continuing relationship so we don’t provide house rules or formal agreements. We do have guidance leaflets to help with some frequently asked questions — see the hosts handbook.
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  7. How long does hosting last?
    This depends on both how long the guest needs to be hosted and how long the host has a room available. Some hosts offer emergency hosting - for one night to a week. This is usually very short notice and there may not be an opportunity for the host and guests to meet in advance. These emergency placements are often for people who would otherwise be on the street.
    Most hosting arrangements are for a few weeks or months. If a host needs their room back before the guest is ready to move into their own accommodation, we do our best to find another host to move on to. We try to avoid this as much as we can as it is very unsettling for the guests but may be unavoidable. We always move guests if hosts ask us to.
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  8. Are there house rules?
    Every household has rules (though they may not be called that) and the hosting relationship works best if the hosts and the guests know what to expect from each other. We ask the hosts to think about this before they offer to host and explain that they will need to talk to their guest, perhaps with the help of the referrer, at the beginning. Our hosts handbook explains more about this and we can always put new hosts in contact with more experienced hosts in their area.
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  9. What happens if problems arise?
    Small problems can almost always be sorted out by talking things through. If the guest or the host is unhappy, the referrer, home visitor and the admin team are there to help. Sometimes the issue can be resolved but if not, the hosting may have to end. When this happens, we try to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.
    We will find another host for the guest in most cases. In a small number of situations, the nature of the problem means that we have to decide not to host the guest again. Fortunately, this is rare and we do not turn guests away lightly. We will always explain what went wrong to the referrer and ask them to advise the guest about what to do next.
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  10. What about financial issues?
    Many of our guests are pretty much destitute. Some may be working part-time or receiving some benefit payments. Many hosts will offer to cook an evening meal for their guests or let them us the kitchen to cook their own food. Some hosts provide travel cards to help guests maintain contacts, get to appointments and avoid becoming isolated. We can make a bursary payment of up to £20 a week to those hosts who are not in a position to help their guests.
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  11. Does Refugees At Home need help?
    Yes please!
    Not everyone can host but you can tell other people about the work we do and they may be able to host or know someone with a spare room. We always need Home Visitors, mostly in city areas, and you may have time to volunteer. We also need help with fund-raising. We have almost no infra-structure so any donations are used to pay for our two employees and to fund the bursary payments we make to hosts.
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  12. Can I host an unaccompanied child through Refugees At Home?
    We don't arrange the hosting of unaccompanied child refugees. This is the responsibility of Children’s Services and is strictly controlled and regulated. If you want to foster, contact your local authority. To find out more about unaccompanied children, The Separated Child Foundation is a charity focused on these asylum-seekers and refugees.
    Some of our guests are 18 and although they are legally adults, they remain very vulnerable. They really need a safe stable place to settle and try and work out how to cope on their own.
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  13. Is hosting a refugee or asylum seeker legal?
    Yes, as long as the guest is engaged with the asylum process or has right to remain. All of our guests have to be, so for most hosts there are no legal issues. There are some exceptions, eg hosts who work for the security services. If you feel that you need legal advice regarding your position as a host, this would need to be sought separately as Refugees at Home isn't qualified to provide this sort of advice to hosts. Refugees (and some other people, as mentioned in question 2 above) will have the right to remain in the UK for varying periods of time and in some cases indefinitely. Hosting people who have the right to remain in the UK is legal provided that no rent (or other payment which might be construed as rent) is being paid.
    Most asylum seeker guests are referred to us by established referral agencies. Provided that guests are not paying any rent to their hosts and that hosts have no reason to believe their guests are in the UK illegally, we would not expect there to be any immigration law problems with hosting an asylum seeker guest who has an ongoing asylum application or appeal. Where a guest has exhausted the appeal process, more careful consideration would be needed regarding ongoing hosting.
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  14. Does hosting affect a host’s sole occupancy council tax discount?
    The approach taken in relation to sole occupancy discounts varies from council to council.
    If you are considering hosting you can contact your council with any queries. If you are a current host we suggest you contact your guest's caseworker in the first instance, as information disclosed to the council could adversely affect your guest's position.
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  15. Might hosting affect a host’s housing benefits?
    Individual councils may take different approaches but providing hosting for a guest could affect the amount of housing benefits hosts receive, particularly if the guest is staying for an extended period of time, on the basis that you have a spare room or because the guest is a non-dependant adult who should in the council's view be paying rent.
    If you are considering hosting you can contact your council with any queries. If you are a current host we suggest you contact your guest's caseworker in the first instance, as information disclosed to the council could adversely affect your guest's position.
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  16. Will host’s insurance cover their guest while hosting them?
    The scope of coverage offered by insurance policies varies, so hosts should contact their insurer with any queries. You may need to notify your insurer, have your policy amended or obtain your insurer's consent in order to host. While Refugees at Home will endeavour to support hosts and guests, it cannot accept any liability in relation to hosting arrangements.
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  17. What is Refugees at Home's role in setting up hosting arrangements?
    Refugees at Home will match hosts with guests who are asylum-seekers or refugees. It will arrange a home visit of hosts, make basic checks on guests and may arrange follow-up visits and provide other limited forms of support for hosts and guests. It does not provide social work services or other regulated services (including care, medical or legal services) to guests, hosts or anybody else.
    Refugees at Home will not be responsible for verifying the accuracy of information provided by hosts or guests or managing the continuing relationship between hosts and guests. It will not pay hosts; hosting is an altruistic relationship where no rent or services in lieu are due in exchange for the hosting. Refugees at Home will not arrange placements for children, or guests with serious mental health issues or substance abuse problems. It matches adults who take responsibility for their own actions. Refugees at Home will do what it can to ensure a successful placement but cannot guarantee this.
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  18. What is Refugees at Home's Privacy Policy?
    Follow the link to our privacy policy.
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