Dear Hosts, Home Visitors & Supporters,

Season’s Greetings

Christmas is coming and with it the challenge of holiday hosting with families gathering or leaving the country. A very jolly, warm, time, but not if you have nowhere to stay. When Ruth discovered that 63 placements were due to end in December, we were daunted, but it was unnecessary. Once we started contacting all our hosts and finding how many guests we would have to actually move on, you were amazing, responsive, warm and hospitable. You are such a lovely lot!

Probably we will only be moving fewer than twenty guests on for the festive season – and more hosts than that have come forward to offer to help. Plus three families are lending us whole houses or flats for at least several weeks, while they are away or preparing for building works.

We are so grateful to everyone who has decided the family can squash in so they can keep their guest or who are starting a new hosting in the week or so. And if you did ask us to find a new host for your guest, because the house was going to be full, we may ask you to host again early in 2018.

Thanks to donors (and plea for Xmas gifts!)

We appealed for your help last month to support both our travel cards and our new employees. Lots of you responded, some incredibly generously, many with a one-off donation, others with monthly or annual commitments. We are so grateful for every contribution to our work.

It gives us the breathing space to work on the grant applications, which can take forever.

 If anyone would like to support our work – or who has friends who might –  (we’d be particularly thrilled to receive a regular donation), you can give through https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/refugeesathome and

https://www.justgiving.com/refugeesathome

We are eligible for Gift Aid.

Placements

We have made more than 830 placements in the last couple of years and have now hosted for over 53,000 individual person nights. On average, we have 150 guests now hosted at any one time. And we couldn’t do any of this without our hosts and visitors, volunteers and supporters.

Happy Birthday to Us!

On 8th February, we turn two. We want to celebrate how far we’ve come, say thank you to some of the people and organisations who have helped us get this far and look to the future- and what better way to do that than by throwing a party?

We are planning an event in London hosted by our incredibly generous lawyers, Travers Smith, and would love some hosts and home visitors to be there.

If you would like to come, please email info@refugeesathost.org. We have THIRTY tickets – first come, first served. I’m afraid we can’t reimburse travel or accommodation but hope people can stay with friends if they are non-Londoners.

We’d also love a string of parties across the country so we can all virtually celebrate together. We’ll be dropping a line out to the hub organisers just after Christmas, but please do shout if you have ideas of events or want to get involved. It’s very exciting to think we have come so far- and, as ever, we simply couldn’t have done it without you. I hope you will join us to celebrate.

Update on the team

George Perry has joined Rachel Davenport as part of the full-time professional placements team. Both have loads of experience with refugees, having volunteered in Calais and elsewhere. It is a huge relief to have our core work in such competent and enthusiastic hands.

You can contact Rachel on 0796 975286 and George on 07928 750704 and both always on info@refugeesathome.org

Our volunteers are doing sterling stuff too. You might hear from Ruth, Rachel M, Anna, Fran, Maya, Molly, Lisa, Tilly, Jodie or Sara – we have some more coming on board over the next few weeks too, and maybe some old friends returning as well.

Plea to Home Visitors

We recently realized we were losing some would-be hosts because we are not sorting Home Visits quickly enough. And we had no organized method of follow-up. We now have a bring-forward scheme so that we know to contact our visitors if there is no news of a visit after 7 or 21 days.

But a plea – if you do agree to do a visit, please, please do it quickly so we can place with successful hosts. And if you can’t do it at all or circumstances change, leading to delay, again please let us know.

We can mostly rearrange and redeploy – but only if we know!

Facebook experiment

Our new London Facebook page is up and running. We have over 130 members at https://www.facebook.com/groups/210107659529883/

It’s for sharing information about events and employment, English classes and hubs. It’s by way of an experiment. If it is useful and popular, and any other area wants their own hosts and visitors page, we would be happy to get it going. Just let us know.

Host and Home Visitor Handbook

It’s hard hosting or visiting for the first time, so we thought handbooks might help – giving some idea what to expect.

These are in the very early stages of drafting. If you would like to contribute information or thoughts you think would be useful to new hosts and HVs, do please email (attn.: Ruth) info@refugeesathome.org

Guest Welcome pack

Finally, I said we would send round the Guest Welcome pack that one host devised and others have tweaked. This is my version and I give it to every new guest. Do use and amend if you would find it helpful.

https://www.refugeesathome.org/files/Guest_Welcome_Pack_ACTON.docx

In the meantime, the next newsletter will be in 2018 – how scary is that?

All our thanks  – and season’s greetings to all our readers.

Sara  and the team

Refugees At Home

www.refugeesathome.org

facebook.com/refugeesathome

twitter.com/refugeesathome