Dear Home Visitors,

It has been so frantically busy at Refugees At Home HQ that we have neglected you shamefully with no newsletter recently. At last, the inbox is empty so I can bring you up to date.

We now have 100 Home Visitors on the books – not all active  – but many of you have carried out one or more visits now. I think Phil is the most prolific with NINE visits to his credit. We really could do with more HVs in West and South London to take the load off him and Mimi.

There are quite a few gaps elsewhere too – so please spread the word.

We have now made 114 placements (by Sunday 31 July). These vary in length and number of people – a placement may be one person for one night or three people for months and months.

So we have a new measurement tool: we can count the number of nights people have been hosted. The current total is 3,153, which is a huge number of nights our guests have NOT spent in parks, on night buses, at train stations or in other uncomfortable, undignified and downright dangerous places.

The other technical advance is that potential hosts can now apply directly into our website, so we don’t have to go through the cut and paste business of entering them, which liberates us to make more placements. It does mean that when we ask you to do a Home Visit, the information will be in a slightly different format – but it’s the same material.

The West London hub is functioning: we have our second meeting next weekend. It’s fabulous to meet our hosts, guests and some Home Visitors too. You do have to be a genuinely nice and caring person to volunteer to do this work – which means it’s a joy to meet the people involved. I hope other hubs will flourish in the autumn.

And we now have are an information resource by location –We hope it will be a guide to what might be available in any area to support guests and hosts. It will need updating so do let us know if you have information of what’s on offer in your area.

Meanwhile, we are adding to the FAQs on the website which now address benefits, single housing and insurance. We hope that will be helpful.

This edition’s story: We have had two requests for emergency placements recently that stand out. One evening at 2115, my email went ping with a message from Ahmad – one of our first guests and recent star of the Exodus series on BBC2 (still on iplayer and a must watch). There was a pregnant Syrian woman with a two-year-old standing at Old Street Station. She was being dispersed to Newcastle the next day but had literally nowhere to go. I scrutinized the data-base and made literally one call. Our host said yes, even though that is all I knew about the woman. An hour later they were all tucked up with a cup of tea. I nearly wept.

Then, just this Friday a message at 2300 about two Syrian lads, stranded in Brent, arrived from Calais that day and unable to present to Croydon or social services until Monday. Could we help? I reckoned you can only approach the well-under 30s at that time.  But one of the two hosts I asked took them in – and the other would have done if his phone hadn’t been dead.

Just thought you would like to know…

Finally, one of our original team has written something on who needs hosting and what our response might be. We have attached it as we thought it might interest you.

Once again, very many thanks and good wishes,

Sara & Nina and the core team

Refugees At Home