Last week, Naomi Turner, Communities of Hospitality Coordinator at JRS UK, attended a coordinators meeting in Paris to discuss the ‘Communities of Hospitality’ project with other JRS Europe country offices. In a number of discussions and workshops, country offices were able to share the different challenges and joys that have had creating communities of hospitality in their countries, and the importance of providing different accommodation projects for refugees and asylum seekers. Of the meeting, Naomi said: “It was an inspiring and thought provoking time, in which I learnt a lot that I didn’t know about the work of all of the JRS office’s work in Europe. It was a very good opportunity to share the issues each office faces”
Over the course of the three days, the coordinators were able to discuss the differences in each of the project models and how this brought with it unique challenges and opportunities to accompany the refugees we serve. In the UK, the Communities of Hospitality project organises short term accommodation of 3 months per placement, where destitute refugees live with communities around London; providing some respite and security at an otherwise difficult time. Countries such as France also organise short-term hosting, in which people are hosted for 4-6 weeks in families, for altogether a nine-month period in different placements. In Poland they have a welcome project that involves language classes, multicultural events, volunteer training, camps and trips.
Throughout the meeting, coordinators were able to spend some time with individuals who had been accompanied by JRS France through their hosting project. A refugee whom had been part of the hosting programme at JRS France led the group on a short tour of Paris, including a visit to see a beautiful mosque, and to see the famous Notre Dame. On one of the evenings individuals who had been part of the JRS France French classes shared poems they’d written as part of the programme and some JRS staff shared songs and poems from their own countries. Naomi finished by saying: “It was great to spend meet with colleagues working on similar projects across Europe and to spend time with some of the refugees who have been part of the projects in JRS France. Accommodation is a serious concern for many refugees and meetings like this help us to discuss and work together to keep increasing the impact the ‘communities of hospitality’ project makes.”
Find out more about how JRS UK creates communities of hospitality through our At Home hosting scheme