To start on a high: we have charitable status!
It came through, with no warning, just after we sent out the last newsletter. Apparently it was granted in December with no questions asked – which is most unusual – and then took a little while to wend its way to us.
So that means we are both super-respectable and that any donations from tax-payers attract Gift Aid and are therefore worth a quarter as much again. In celebration, we have added a “donate” key to the web-site and have already had a sizeable donation or two.
We still don’t pay anyone – everyone helping Refugees At Home is a volunteer. And we are completely virtual, so nothIng goes on rent or rates either. In fact I go “host-raising” not fund-raising as that is still our priority. All our money goes on helping guests (via hosts) mostly with travel.
We do worry about isolation from English classes, employment opportunities and communities because travel costs are high and not sustainable by all hosts. Some hosts also need help with food costs, although that is pretty infrequent.
Hosts often ask for advice about how to register with a GP, how to change job centres and, most of all, how to get their guest a bank account. The answer is always that it’s tricky and varies.
We thought that sharing this story might help.
It’s the tale of how one of our hosts achieved a bank account for his guest. And, in spite of being a financial journalist, it took seven hours and six banks. How those with limited English and no knowledge of the system are supposed to do it, I don’t know.
You can use our resource database to check for local or specialised advice providers. Organisations giving legal advice should have OISC accreditation Accredited Immigration Advisers.
Ed, Katie and the team have been beavering away on our online resource database. It lists useful contacts for refugees by subject and location.
If you know of contacts that are included, especially in your local area, please add them to the list here
We really hope you find it useful and would like to hear your comments.
Closure of the Winter Night Shelters
Last year we were too small and new for the annual closure of the winter night shelters to impact on us at all: we hadn’t heard of them and vice versa. What a difference a year makes. We have been overwhelmed by demand for new placements and currently have more than 25 potential guests either needing urgent or soon hosts. And, of course, it comes just as many hosts are preparing for Easter holidays.
So if you are a referrer, please think about flexibility – we really don’t have any more hosts in East London – and necessity: is this chap really suitable for hosting, could he stay with a friend, will he turn up? We do spend a lot of time making placements – which is hard work – and cross-making for us and worrying for the hosts if the potential guest doesn’t show up.
We have now hosted for 18,475 person nights – more than 4,000 up on the last newsletter.
We had made 436 placements by 25 March, mostly London and the Home Counties but with a growing number in Brighton and Birmingham. And we need hosts in all of the above (also Bristol and Cardiff particularly). So if you can recruit your neighbours, friends or colleagues, please do. A book club has provided our newest recruit!
Do please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are subjects you would like to see covered in our next newsletter.