Earlier this month, 19 of our hosts from 13 households gathered on a video-call to reflect on their experience of hosting a destitute refugee through JRS. We normally hold a host meeting twice a year in-person, so this was quite a new experience for us!
We started our meeting by reflecting on the words of one of our friends, whom recently had his reflection of life as a destitute refugee during the pandemic featured in The Independent.
Our refugee friend, who is a member of our self-advocacy group ‘Refugees Call for Change’ writes powerfully on how difficult life is currently for asylum seekers, with many of the normal charity day centres suspended changed during this time, and how difficult his life has been for the 16 years that he has been here without secure immigration status.
We reflected on the joys as well as challenges of hosting- especially during this difficult time, when all members of a household are at our close quarters and are likely spending more time together then they normally would.
Hosts spoke about the difficulty of their guests potentially being at a loose end at this time- with the day centres needing to close, the loss of the normal sources of community and occupation can be keenly felt. One host shared how their guest has used this time to get further into art, and has been enjoying drawing and painting in the house. Her host has been encouraging her and noted that she is rather talented.
Naomi Turner, Communities of Hospitality Coordinator, led the meeting, and spoke about the journey of one of our previous hosting scheme guests, whom we have been very happy to see recently gain his refugee status. She said: “When our friend first came to be hosted, he had been sleeping rough. He was accommodated in two different hosting placements, by a parish and a family, and our internal Legal Project prepared his fresh claim for asylum. We are so happy at JRS that his application was successful, and that he can now begin his life properly in the UK- with his partner and two young children. The hosting scheme gave our friend the security and thereby energy to keep going with his asylum claim, and we are so grateful to our inspiring volunteer hosts.”