As we begin the New Year, most of us are spending more time at home than we ever have. Challenging as it may be, we might often feel grateful for the cosy comfort and warmth of our own homes. But for many of our refugee friends, the New Year brings with it the anxiety of not knowing where you will be sleeping tomorrow.
Our hosting scheme, ‘At Home’, has been a lifeline for many of our refugee friends facing homelessness in London. The scheme operates all year-round, matching refugee friends with volunteer hosts who offer a safe space for them to stay for 3 months at a time. We have made over 100 short-term placements, and we regularly hear hugely positive feedback on the experience from hosts and guests alike.
Speaking about a recent placement with a host couple, one of our refugee friends told us:
“The comfort was present with a good and large bedroom. All was for my peace of mind. Their children gave all the respect and the sympathy. We all were really close to each other. I met there many people, their friends and neighbours, all wonderful.
“This family gave me all. I left them but they still support me; a marvellous family.
“I thank JRS who allowed me to meet all these great people in my life. I have had their love, sympathy , assistance, support…really happy with all of them…”
Read Miko’s account of hosting a refugee over Christmastime with JRS UK
As you can imagine, the disruption caused when At Home had to be suspended during the period of lockdown last year, has had lasting effects on both refugee guests, and volunteer hosts, many of whom are elderly and more vulnerable.
Many hosts were distressed at the thought that they could not continue providing shelter to a homeless refugee, and many of our refugee friends were exposed to the elements as well as a terrifying pandemic.
Naomi Turner, who coordinates the At Home scheme explains:
“Asylum seekers who are unable to receive Home Office accommodation or government support live in and out of crisis, sofa-surfing or staying in precarious living situations. They are made completely destitute, often finding themselves street homeless for extended periods of time. The effects of social distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic have only exacerbated these already desperate circumstances.
“By hosting an asylum seeker supported by JRS UK, you are providing a lifeline of support to someone who has already been through a great deal of trauma.
We need you to help us provide our refugee friends with shelter and safety as they embark on the challenges of 2021. Warmth and comfort, and the reassurance of a roof over their heads can make an immeasurable difference to our refugee friends; they are able to face the world with more mental and physical strength, progressing their cases and their lives.
A hosting placement at this time can mean the world to our refugee friends and it is the difference between a place to feel safe and utter destitution.
Could you be a JRS ‘At Home’ host? Find out more about the scheme
If you live in London, and would like to find out more about opening your home to a refugee for a short period of time, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note the JRS ‘At Home’ hosting scheme is based in London, and we can only accept volunteer hosts who live in the Greater London area. If you’re unsure whether you can take part where you live, please contact us