The JRS UK hosting scheme offering destitute refugees respite accommodation
"They showed me acceptance and love...unconditional love. I felt like a part of the family, I truly felt at home." Henry, a refugee guest
One of the greatest challenges faced by the refugees attending the JRS weekly Day Centre is the lack of accommodation. Destitute refugees are often forced to seek respite on night buses, rely on friends who might host them for a night or two, or else find a nook where they can bed down for the night.
In response, the JRS At Home scheme aims to match destitute refugees with individuals, parishes and religious communities who are able and willing to offer accommodation for a three-month period.
We know that opening your home and community to welcome a stranger can be a daunting prospect. For this reason, the At Home scheme is designed to prepare hosts and guests in advance of the hosting placement, with support continuing thereafter.
How does it work?
Refugee friends in need of accommodation and who meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria are identified as potential guests. They are then introduced to hosts who are willing to provide accommodation and a warm welcome for the duration of the three-month period. Guests continue attending the Day Centre and receiving support from JRS throughout the time that they are hosted.
Hosts remain in contact with the JRS Communities of Hospitality Coordinator throughout the placement and are encouraged to share their experience and feedback. Meetings which bring hosts together to reflect on their experience are organised throughout the year.
The relationship between the host community and the refugee guest is at the heart of the hosting placement and we have seen the change that hosting makes to the host and the refugee guest alike. For refugees who have spent nights nodding off on the bus, having a roof over their heads brings peace of mind and the opportunity to recuperate from the affronts to their dignity they experience daily. Receiving hospitality as opposed to hostility recalls and affirms their humanity and dignity. Equally, hosts often say that, despite their initial apprehension about welcoming a stranger into their space, they find hosting to be a fruitful experience. It enables them to encounter a fellow human being and appreciate that behind the label ‘refugee’ is a person with a story, with hopes, dreams and fears, who is seeking to get on with their life, much like the rest of us.
Please note: the At Home scheme does not accept referrals for emergency accommodation.
If would like to host one of our refugee friends and reside in the Greater London area, please contact JRS on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The JRS Communities of Hospitality Coordinator will provide further information on the scheme and ways in which you can provide support to our refugee friends.
Outside London? Contact us for information on other hosting schemes operating in your area.