Our team of admin volunteers identify a suitable Home Visitor to come and visit you. We will try to make sure that they are as local to you as possible, although in some locations this can be more difficult. During Coronavirus lockdown restrictions these will happen via video call and not a physical visit. It may take us a few tries and a little while to find an available home visitor, as they all volunteer their time and many are very busy. However we try to do this as fast as possible.
Once an available home visitor has been assigned, we send them the information that you provide us in your application, through our secure communication system.
Your Home Visitor will use this information to contact you and arrange a suitable time to meet.
Our Home Visitors are volunteers with professional experience in making home assessments.
Your Home Visitor will come to your home as arranged. They will need to see the place that the guest will stay, and other areas that the guest will use. Please make sure that they will be able to access relevant areas of the house. During a remote home visit, your Home Visitor will still need a virtual tour via video call.
Your Home Visitor will help you to think through how your home life could work while a guest stays with you. For example, they may ask you to think about how you will clear the spare room of things that you want access to, so that the guest will have a private space. They will want to speak to you and any other adults in the household to make sure that everyone is happy with the idea of hosting. If there are children, it can be good to include them to. Your Home Visitor will help you to think through hosting in your household. Have you considered the different situations that might occur? What should a guest be mindful of in your household? What will they have access to? Who might you host in your home – do you have space for more than one person? Would you consider hosting a parent and child for example?
This is also a good opportunity for you to ask any questions that you may have. Our volunteers might not have all the answers as their role is about you, not guests. However they can refer any questions they are not sure of back to the placement team.
Occasionally, it becomes clear via the home visit to the home visitor and potential host, that hosting is not going to work for the household at this time. Sometimes people are very keen to help someone in need but perhaps hadn’t fully considered the implications of hosting in their home. Perhaps someone in the household is not fully on board. The home visit is designed to help you gain clarity. If you can’t go ahead for any reason, please let us know your decision as soon as you can. And if things change in future, you can get back in touch. If you are still keen to host but feel slightly anxious, let your Home Visitor know so they can feed this back to the Placement team. We want to do everything we can to make you feel at ease and make hosting a positive experience.
Once the home visit is complete, your home visitor will take up your two references.
Once received, they will send these to us. They will also write their report on the visit, and share this with us via our secure communications system. It will include a summary of any issues discussed relevant to hosting, and a description of the space you are offering. It will also include an assurance that the host is aware that hosting is an altruistic arrangement and that no rent is to be charged or money offered in exchange for services. Further, that the host is aware that given their difficult legal status and situation in the UK, our guests are by definition vulnerable, and that within the hosting dynamic there is an inherent power imbalance. Our guests must be safe from exploitation and our hosts need to be able to maintain appropriate boundaries. We know that this can be difficult when it comes to someone living in your home, and Refugees at Home are happy to support hosts with this whenever necessary.
The placement team or volunteer team will process the report and note any details necessary to making a suitable placement. This can be things like no smoking in the house or that you are a vegetarian diet only household, you have a pet or are offering a sofa bed for an emergency placement. We then send you an email confirming that you have been accepted as a host. At this point you are registered as active on our database and our team will contact you as soon as a suitable guest is in need of a placement.
If you live in London or one of our other high referral cities, you may be contacted very shortly after this. If you are outside these cities, it is likely to take longer – perhaps months. Also if you have been very specific about who you want to host, for example you have decided to only host women, it is likely that you will wait longer until we have a suitable placement to suggest to you. This will also depend on who is referred to us and to their unique needs.
The best thing that you can do to help your guest before they arrive is to try to think through the implications of sharing your home with someone new, and to make sure that you are prepared.
To do this, you might find it helps to mentally step outside your home, and then to enter it again, trying to see it as if for the first time. What are the important things to be aware of, that a guest will need to know?
We highly recommend that you prepare a Welcome Pack for your guest. Ideally this will be in clear, simple language, including only necessary information. Including images will really help. You should be able to make it clear to your guest what they can and cannot do in your home. Because of differences in cultural norms and expectations, you may find that you have to explain things that you consider very obvious, or that go without saying. Of course this will depend on you and on your guest, but it can really help to try to make things as clear as possible from the beginning.
It can also be useful to think about what might be available in your area that could help your guest to settle in. Is there a place to buy halal meat for example? What places of worship are accessible from where you live? Please do contact us if you have questions about this, we will do our best to support you.