There are a variety of ways a placement can come to an end. When going into hosting, it is helpful to be aware of the ways that this is likely to happen.
When signing up to host, it is natural to hope that when a guest leaves your home, it will be to go into their own independent accommodation. This does happen for some of our guests, but not all. The journey from fleeing persecution in a country of origin to attaining Refugee status and building an independent life in the UK is often a difficult and complicated one. It is made up of many small steps, of which hosting can be an essential, but often not a final one.
Here are some types of placement ending you might experience.
When arranging your placement, we will have agreed with you a specific timeframe, and expected end date. Sometimes hosts agree that this could be flexible, and sometimes not. Timeframes can be helpful in maintaining important boundaries and expectations.
Sometimes the end date is determined by the host – for example, you can only offer emergency placements that last one week maximum. Your guest, their referrer, and the placement team know in advance that the placement will last for 1 week, and are prepared for the ending. If further hosting is needed, we can arrange for a guest to move to another Refugees at Home host.
Sometimes a guest only needs to be hosted for a very specific time period. This may happen for example when they have been given a date when they can move into their own tenancy. In this case, they are able to avoid homelessness during the interim period through hosting. Again everyone will know in advance that the placement is due to end on this specific date.
Sometimes a placement ends earlier than was originally arranged. This can be according to the decision of the host, the guest, or sometimes both.
A host’s personal circumstances may change in such a way that they are no longer able to offer hosting. An example may be that a friend or family member needs to stay in the room.
Similarly, a guest’s personal circumstances may change – perhaps a friend becomes able to offer them a place to stay.
It can also happen that either the host or guest decide that the placement is not working. There can be many reasons why the placement is not right for one, the other or both. Occasionally there may be an issue with how the host and guest relate to each other, which can not be resolved with the support of Refugees at Home and the guest’s referrer. More often it will be that some practical aspect of the placement is not working. An example could be that the placement is too far from the guest’s place of study and they can no longer manage the daily journey.
Occasionally our guests have left placements which had seemed to be going well, and made a decision to move which goes against the advice of their referrer. This can be frustrating and may not appear to make sense within the hosting framework and what we know about a guest. However it’s important to respect our guests’ decisions and remember that we can’t know or appreciate all the factors which led to it – and important for our hosts not to take this personally.
If a host or guest tells us that they need the placement to end early, we will work to facilitate a move to another host if appropriate. There can be situations where Refugees at Home will not provide further placements and the reasons for this will be discussed as openly as possible with you. We may work with the referrer to explore other move on accommodation options for the guest. We understand that occasionally even an abrupt ending is unavoidable and will do our best within these circumstances.
We know that not every host has the capacity to host for an extended period, and therefore don’t go into a placement expecting them to.
However the reality is that many guests do need extended periods of hosting.
We may arrange with the guest that they move between hosts. However, we also may ask the current host if they would be happy to extend the placement. For many hosts who initially choose to host short or emergency terms, they may also find that their household just clicks really well with a particular guest. We encourage hosts in those circumstances to think about extending the stay of their guest if further hosting is needed. If not, then we will source a new host if we can and if the guest continues to engage with the move on plan.
As the arranged ending comes up, we will check with you to see if you would be happy to extend. We will not do this if you have been clear from the beginning about when the placement needs to end. But our placements often work very well and are very positive for both host and guest, who both want to continue. If we do ask, you shouldn’t feel under any pressure to agree – we will not have the expectation that you do and will have alternatives in mind. However, as in all aspects of hosting, the most helpful thing that a host can do for us is to tell us what they would like to happen, clearly and as soon as possible, or to communicate any concerns that we might work on resolving.
Some of our hosts extend the placement many times, until it is understood that the offer is there until the guest is ready to move on. In these cases we will continue to check in just in case anything has changed, and will always be happy to step in if they do.
Sometimes placements end in circumstances beyond our control, often as a result of the realities of the asylum system. The likelihood of these endings will depend on your guest’s particular circumstances, which we can discuss with you, but it is helpful to know what to expect from the beginning of the placement.
One possibility may be that your guest will be granted the section 4 support from the Home Office that they had applied for – commonly known as NASS. This means that they will move into government provided accommodation. The Home Office gives people little to no notice of this, and will arrange transport to pick a guest up from your home and take them to this accommodation. It could be that this accommodation is in an area a guest is unfamiliar with, or that for some reason a guest is worried or reluctant to go. This is understandable and unfortunately the type or location of the accommodation can sometimes present a guest with concerns. However, we take the position that it is in a guest’s best interests for them to leave the hosting arrangement at this point and to go to the accommodation. If someone is seen to turn down statutory support it may impact on their future ability to access this. Provision of accommodation represents a step towards independence. In the case of serious concerns about the suitability of the accommodation, the referrer will do their best to challenge. Unfortunately there is a high threshold to be met in these challenges.
It may become clear that Refugees at Home as an organisation is no longer able to offer hosting to a person. This can be for a variety of reasons, for example because of a change in a guest’s circumstances. In these cases, we may need to bring hosting to an end. If appropriate, we will work with the referrer to identify organisations better suited to provide support.
This would also happen if a guest behaves in a manner which is beyond the capacity of our volunteer hosts to respond to. An example could be a substantial breakdown in mental health where someone would need specialist support.
Another example is if a guest ceased to engage with the asylum process, despite the best efforts of those who support them. If this happens, there will be no prospect of making progress towards their agreed move on plan. Refugees at Home arranges hosting so that people can move beyond it and towards living independently. We can’t support a placement which has no prospect of move on, and will have to bring it to an end. This will have been set out clearly and agreed by guests and referrers from the outset.
Will I stay in touch with my guest after they leave my house?
Placements can range from one night to upwards of one year and the relationships formed are unique. Refugees at Home does not keep track of our former guests after hosting ends, respecting their privacy and their potential wish to leave this difficult part of their lives behind them. However, guests and hosts may mutually choose to maintain contact when the placement ends. After shorter placements or if a guest has been through many different situations and accommodation with different people, maintaining contact becomes less likely. However so many of our hosts have had wonderful longer term hosting experiences and continue to have meaningful ongoing relationships with their former guests.