Without our dedicated volunteers, we would simply not be able to accompany those seeking asylum who face destitution. Nowhere in our work is this more evident than in our ‘At Home’ hosting scheme which pairs a refugee guest with volunteer hosts in the London area, for a short-term placement. Without this incredible group of volunteer hosts, who welcome a destitute refugee in to their homes, many of our friends seeking asylum would be facing street homelessness or risking their lives in precarious accommodation where they are at greater risk of exploitation and abuse.
One of the things that often strikes you when you meet a JRS volunteer is the warmth and openness with which they welcome you. It is a powerful example of the JRS mission of accompaniment, and the welcome our destitute refugee friends receive each day they spend with their hosts.
Two volunteer hosts Miko and Dorothee sat down with us (virtually!) to share their experiences of hosting refugee guests through our ‘At Home’ scheme.
Miko said: “It was just such a privilege to have somebody around. You know most people in life you meet you meet for a short amount of time and you get a sort of general impression of things. But if somebody is actually there. Then you know there’s the possibility to have proper conversation and really learn things.”
Speaking about the benefits of showing hospitality to an asylum seeker, Dorothee shared:
“We were talking about it the other day and saying it’s a no brainer. You know it takes people off the streets. It makes people meet eachother. I was very grateful that the JRS were basically doing a lot of the legwork by being faith inspired, community inspired, having food banks or consultations or advice”
Those who are supported by JRS UK have no other support available to them, and find themselves made completely destitute by the UK asylum system which is rooted in Government policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for those without immigration status. Commenting on the situation our friends are forced to live in, Miko said:
“This is absolutely terrifying and you’re in a completely alien culture. You know that if you have somewhere that you can call home and you know that you’ve got shelter there, that you’re going to be warm and you’ve got some food. I mean, it’s got to be a help. “
We’re so grateful to both Miko and Dorothee for their honesty, and for their willingness to offer their own home as a place of hospitality and welcome, which they and so many others like them over the years have been able to give. We hope that after watching our volunteer Q & A, those of you with a spare room may feel inspired to take part in our hosting scheme.
Find out more about JRS UK’s refugee hosting scheme ‘At home’