Refugees at Home facilitates placements between hosts and guests. We know that each host and guest relationship is different, and that makes each placement unique. We use our carefully crafted procedures, and our experience of making placements and of working with hosts and referral partners, to set up placements and to provide various forms of support to hosts and guests. This helps to make sure that placements are as smooth and positive as possible.
Both hosts and guests go through a process where their suitability for hosting is assessed and we make placement matches based on this information. We are completely transparent with hosts about who we are asking them to host and share the information that a referrer will send about a guest. The only information that we do not share with a host is that which is not pertinent to hosting such as details about a guests journey (if we have them). This is for our guests to share if they so wish.
Occasionally things can go wrong. If they do, it is generally about boundaries or misunderstandings. Some hosting arrangements come under strain because the guest is not sticking to the household ‘rules’ or conventions. When this happens, it is up to the guest to adjust to the household, not the other way around and we ask the referrer to help with this. Such issues may arise when cultural expectations are an issue – for example, very young guests may have had no experience of the idea that they should change their bed linen at regular intervals, having previously been supported by their family. For most guests, these are problems which resolve with a bit of patience and explanation. Where guests can’t adjust, we may need to ask the referrer to make other arrangements.
There have been a handful of more serious incidents to date. These include, for example, two instances of theft to date – in both cases the item was returned. These represent a miniscule proportion of the 181,088 placement nights hosted as of March 2021.
Where there are more difficult challenges we will intervene and support the hosts and guests immediately, if necessary asking the guest to leave that day.
Refugees and asylum seekers are, by definition, vulnerable. That doesn’t mean they aren’t articulate, intelligent, determined human beings with personal agency; but they are also in a complicated legal and personal situation, often having endured very difficult circumstances that has left them with very complex things to work through; and all this in an alien country & culture.
Hosts need to be very aware of the power differential, and consider how this might affect their relationship with the guest. Particular care should be taken about developing any relationship beyond that of host and guest and to think through what consent might mean to the guest. This is particularly important in terms of sexual relationships, which are never appropriate and will result in placements ending and hosts being removed from our register.
This also extends to business relationships or any financial agreements (we believe that these are highly unlikely to be appropriate and there are significant legal risks if hosts accept any rent or payment which might be construed as rent from guests) or even very intense friendships. A host might be making a very genuine offer of help or friendship but the guest may well feel very powerless and obliged to agree as a result. We ask our home visitor to explore with the host the limitations of the hosting role and this power differential. We also take up two references for hosts in order to help protect our guests. Guests are also usually supported by their referrers throughout the placement, who they often have an established relationship with and who can support them with any concerns relating to the placement, Refugees at Home seeks regular updates from referrers to try to establish that all is well from the perspective of the guest.
Some guests with Refugee status may be able to refer themselves, if we are confident that they have the ability to move on from hosting in a timely manner without a referrer’s support.
The way that we work with referring organisations helps us to keep our hosts safe.
We accept referrals mostly from organisations that we work closely with and trust. Sometimes we do choose to work with new referrers and organisations if we are confident that they can work with us and the person that they have referred in the way that we require. We ask a lot from the caseworkers referring a potential guest, and make sure that they understand what our hosts need. We only accept referrals when it is clear that the referrer will be able to share the responsibility of ensuring a placement is successful. They should be actively involved in preparing the person they are referring – making sure that they understand the hosting arrangement, and managing their expectations. They will also ensure that a guest understands on what basis a placement will have to be brought to an end. They will commit to being actively involved with their guest and their asylum case for the duration of the placement. If a guest has Refugee status, a referrer may be helping them to access private rental accommodation or work opportunities.
During our triage process, we follow a tried and tested triage which aims to cover most issues that are pertinent to hosting. We may explore some areas in more detail depending on the responses that we have received from our referrers. We will not progress a referral to the placement stage until we are satisfied that we have a clear picture of who a guest is. We rely on referrers and guests providing us with accurate information and cannot be held responsible for information that has not been shared with us.
We make it clear to referrers that all information pertinent to hosting will be shared with potential hosts. Through our experience of making placements, we are able to anticipate and avoid any potential problems. We do this through preparing in the ways described. We also do this by trying to make the best match possible between host and guest. This could include for example, considering the relevant experience of a host and the unique needs of the guest. We do this by supporting the host throughout with regular check-ins and updates, and making sure that the referrer remains engaged with their guest. We also do it by offering hosts a debrief after they finish a placement, so that we can understand more about how we can best support them through future placements.
Lastly, each host’s assigned Home Visitor will be informed when a placement is made. They will check in near the beginning of a placement to make sure that things are going ok, and will be available if a host has questions or needs additional support.
If you have concerns about your or someone else’s safety then you should dial 999.
A member of the Refugees at Home team is available 9am to 6pm 7 days a week but we are not an emergency service. If something happens outside these hours we will do our best to respond but may not always be able to find a solution until the following day when referrers are available.
Depending on the type of emergency we may not be able to find further hosting for your guest or be able to get the answers needed immediately – but we will respond as swiftly as possible.
The quickest way to record your emergency with us is to email firstname.lastname@example.org