The Refugees At Home core team thought it about time we updated you all with where we have got to now. It’s three months since we rolled out this group to help refugees and asylum-seekers by matching them with generous hosts – you guys – for a shorter or longer period while they sort out their lives.
The best news is that we have made 43 placements so far. A few were while we were piloting but the vast majority since early February. We have placed all sorts of people who needed your hospitality: two families of three Iranians; a Syrian mother and child; a chap who came on family reunification but his wife was in a women only hostel, so we hosted until they got a small flat together; an Eritrean woman who was 24 weeks pregnant when she arrived and was eventually housed by a council just before she gave birth; a lawyer from Sierra Leone and many others.
Most of our placements so far have been in London and Surrey where we have a lot of demand and quite a few hosts. But we have also placed in Solihull, Hastings and four young men in Bristol. I think one in Colchester is looming.
If you have been through the Home Visit process and are waiting for a placement but haven’t heard, it’s because mostly we are responding to demand which has been very London-based. If any of you have connections with local refugee support groups or agencies, do please put them in touch with us and ask them to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. we are happy to place anywhere we have hosts – and that means all over the UK.
The other thing we are trying to create at the moment is a “hub” system by which hosts in more or less the same area can get together for mutual support and so neither they nor their guests feel isolated.
We have piloted this with the “Surrey hub” which is now up and running. It meets at a café run by a Syrian in Epsom and at hosts’ homes around the county. So far there has been a silent film evening and a birthday dinner. As we have two Iranian families of three people each being hosted in Surrey at the moment, these are quite busy events.
We have written a “How to start up a hub” so if anyone would like to get one going, please let us know. Each hub needs a volunteer co-ordinator, but Connie who runs Surrey will tell you it’s not a frightening amount of work to do.
It looks like west London, Bristol and possibly Colchester might be the next ones.
We are also working on an information resource by location – based on a combination of host and Home Visitor experience, flagrant poaching from Facebook pages and research by Katie Ross (one of our core volunteers). We hope it will be a guide to what might be available in any area to support guests and hosts. It will probably go on the website www.refugeesathome.org unless anyone has a better idea. If you have information to add, please let us know.
Meanwhile, the FAQs are up on the website and might help with the tricky issues you need to think about when you start hosting.
Suggestions for additions are more than welcome.
We will try and do a newsletter fairly regularly to keep you in the loop even if you haven’t had a placement yet.
And we do have a private discussion forum for people who want to be involved in strategy and development of Refugees At Home as well as being hosts, home visitors or volunteers. Please email email@example.com if you would like to join in and Timothy will guide you through becoming a member of the forum.
Finding more hosts
Last thing: our biggest host-recruiting mechanism is word of mouth: people who have done it and found that, overall, it is an enriching experience. Can you recruit a friend or contact? We’re especially keen if you are in London or not so far away. (we may not be wholly London-centric but an awful lot of our potential guest are!) Hosts who know each other build hubs…everyone is more supported and therefore we can help more guests in dire situations. It’s worth a shot.
Once again, very many thanks and good wishes,
Sara & Nina and the core team
Refugees At Home