Home Visitors Newsletter 10 – 8 May 2017
Dear Home Visitors,
It’s nearly Ramadan – a very important time in many of our guests’ lives. And we found last year that many of our volunteers really didn’t know what it was about. So I asked a Muslim member of the R@H Board to help explain.
This year Ramadan runs from 26th May until 24th June. It’s a month in the Islamic calendar when observant Muslims try to fast, meaning not eating or drinking, from dawn to dusk, as well as generally being more conscious of religious duties and more pious. It can be a long warm day at UK latitudes.
In London this year the fast lasts from about 0330 until 2130. But this varies according to latitude. For the exact times here is a link to the timetable.
Iftar is the meal after sunset when the fast is broken, it’s a special time when families and friends often get together, as is Eid at the end of the month. A long day of fasting can be really tiring, so having something appropriate ready to eat and drink in the evening is important. Many like to break their fast on dates. Often people get up before sunrise to eat and pray, and generally their timetable changes to accommodate different mealtimes, some people stay up late or even right through the night in prayer. It’s possible your hosts will find this quite testing and may come to you for help or advice.
While fasting can be a spiritual experience, it can also be tiring and demanding, Muslims make extra efforts to be well behaved and charitable, but 18 hours is a long time without food and water. Some people may find being hosted in households with dogs especially difficult in this month. But it’s a special time that can bring out the best in people.
Refugee Week 19-25 June 2017
We are involved in a variety of events this year, including having a rather fun stall at the South Bank Centre on Saturday 24th. If you are interested in helping with the stall, please email Rachel on firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are holding or participating in events elsewhere, please do let us know.
One of the very difficult things for refugees and asylum seekers is the low level of income and high level of insecurity of their situations. As such, it can be tempting to draw up an ‘agreement’ between guest and host, sometimes even with financial amounts in it for benefits purposes. While done with the best of intentions, this can create enormous problems. In some cases it is obviously not clear to hosts how important it is that they neither accept money from their guests, nor sign anything that could be construed as a tenancy agreement. We are about altruistic hosting in principle – but it’s also for the both guests and hosts’ protection: our guests are just that, guests, and don’t have the right to stay in a host’s home – but if the host accepts money or signs anything suggesting there is a tenancy, this can cause problems.
Obviously a guest who is earning may want to contribute – and doing some household shopping, for example, may be wholly appropriate. Paying money into the host’s bank account is not a good idea.
Can you make this clear when you do the visits please.
Our Resource Database is getting bigger all the time and we hope you can use it to help hosts and guests access the advice and help they need. It’s a work in progress and you can input new information directly. The more everyone does that, the better and more comprehensive it will be.
You can find it at http://refsource.gebnet.co.uk/ . You may know your patch well and be able to add information. Certainly it’s worth pointing it out to new hosts when you visit them.
Recruiting more hosts
This is always a challenge. As we get bigger, we need more hosts, especially in large towns and cities. Our most successful hosts may have someone staying with them for several months – which is great and the guests love it – but it does take the hosts out of circulation for a good long while. Others have to drop out for a while when circumstances changes, those who have flown the nest return to it or exams loom.
Of course we need more Home Visitors too – maybe you can reach out to professional colleagues if you find we are asking you to do more visits than you really have time to do.
Our hubs are growing quite quickly at the moment. We have recently or will soon have host hub meetings in Bristol, Kingston, Dorking, Epsom, West, South East London, Kent, Hackney, Hertford, Holloway, Brighton and Cambridge. There may be others already meeting informally which we don’t know about.
We probably have enough hosts in Manchester, South West & North West London and Walthamstow, to support hubs – would anyone like to step forward and co-ordinate any of these? It’s not terribly hard work and can be both fun and helpful – particularly for new hosts. Home Visitors can be well-placed to co-ordinate these and of course are welcome at them all.
We have now hosted for over 24,000 person nights – nearly 6,000 up on the last newsletter.
We had made 520 placements by 8 May. Quite a few young Sudanese men from the same language class went to Dorking, Surrey over Easter, Ashley housing has referred several more chaps on their waiting list in Bristol and we made our first placement in Malvern.
We are currently looking for more hosts in Brighton, for Syrians, and in Manchester for a variety of people. Plus a really exceptional host who would take in a poorly 6 month old and her parents near Kingston Hospital where she needs daily treatment. And of course always in the capital – especially East London.
If you are a newish Home Visitor and have seen none or few of our newsletters, we are now uploading them onto the website: www.refugeesathome.org/#newsletters. So if you think you have missed any of the information, links or just to keep in touch, do look there for the back issues.
All the best for now and so many thanks for being a wonderful lot. It makes the admin team’s task nearly a feasible one.
Sara, and the core admin team