A referral will be sent to us, reviewed by a senior member of staff and then allocated to a member of the placement team. Potential guests are usually referred to us by their caseworker, at an organization such as Refugee Action or the British Red Cross. We work closely with many such organizations throughout the United Kingdom – both the bigger national ones, and smaller local ones. Guests who have been granted refugee status by the Home Office can self-refer if they have a good level of English language, confidence in navigating life in the UK alone, and two character references. We also sometimes get referrals from organizations we haven’t worked with before.
The first step is for the placement team to triage the referral. The placement team will determine how urgent the referral is. Will the person need emergency hosting, perhaps today or in the next few nights? Or are they asking that the placement starts perhaps in a couple of weeks time, or a month? Secondly, the placement team and the person making the referral will discuss all information relevant to hosting. The placement team will then make a decision about whether Refugees at Home can offer hosting in this instance.
The kinds of questions that the placement team will ask:
We start to look for a host. Once we have all relevant information and have decided that hosting is the best available option, we start to narrow down on the most suitable hosts for this person. This will depend on several factors. One of the most important is the location that the guest has requested hosting in. Other than this we will look at the host’s requirements, the nature of the household, and what we know about both host and guest. For example, we don’t place female guests in male only households. Our placement team works hard to find the best ‘fit’ between a host and a guest. This helps to ensure as best we can that the placement is successful. Once a placement team member has a list of potential hosts, they will contact them to ask if they are available to host in principle. If it is an emergency placement they will generally ask as many suitable hosts as they can find simultaneously, knowing that many will be unavailable or may not be able to answer quickly. Sometimes this means by the time we hear back from you, we have already made the placement.
If we are sure that we will not be able to find a suitable host for a referred guest, we will do our best to suggest more appropriate alternatives to the person making the referral. Often we are able to use our experience to suggest that the referrer explore a different route to more suitable accommodation for the person. We generally don’t host people who are eligible for statutory support. This is for two main reasons. The first is that we need to prioritize our limited resources to host those who really have no other option. The second is that turning down the option of statutory accommodation can have detrimental effects on a person’s ability to access this option further down the line. We want to help wherever we can and wherever this is the best option for the referred person. We will always examine each referral on a case-by-case basis, and may be flexible in exceptional circumstances.
When a host replies to the placement team to say they can consider a placement, it is now time to discuss details. The placement co-ordinator will send the host some details about the guest over our secure communication system. At this stage, you can ask the placement team any relevant questions to help you make your decision. The placement team will also be able to discuss logistics with you and any extra considerations related to this particular placement. You will see that the guest’s referrer or caseworker may also enter the discussion at this point. This to ensure that the guest’s needs are also being met and to answer relevant questions about the guest.
You may decide after seeing the guest’s details that for some reason you will not be able to go ahead with this placement. We understand and respect that this can happen and want to support you to make the right decision for your household. We ask that you can communicate with us as clearly and promptly as possible, including raising any concerns that you may have which could be resolved. This will allow the placement team to explore the range of options open to them effectively.
When you have agreed to welcome a guest into your home, the final step is to make arrangements for their arrival. It is worth mentioning at this point that for several reasons, arranged placements sometimes don’t go ahead. We understand that there can be a level of inconvenience involved in this after a host has prepared themselves. Unfortunately this can be unavoidable, and it can help to remember that it is often the result of a positive development for the guest who needed the placement. It may be that the guest’s referrer was exploring a range of options to help the person into accommodation, and hosting was among these really as a last resort. It may be that another option has materialized at the last minute, and a guest will be moving into something which looks more like independent living. It may be that another host has come forward in a better location to the guest, closer to their place of work, study or community.
If the placement is to go ahead, an arrangement will be made usually between our host-to-be, the guest’s referrer and possibly the guest, and perhaps the previous hosts. Usually the referrer will be responsible for communicating the plans to the guest. Arrangements can differ – sometimes a host offers to pick the guest up from the nearest station, sometimes the guest can come on public transport or be dropped off by their former host. It has also happened that guests have not shown up at an arranged placement. Sometimes people have just been too nervous at the prospect of arriving at the house of people that they have never met. Should this happen we will try to work with the referrer to see if there is a solution. The majority of the time, your guest will arrive as arranged, and the placement will begin.