On Tuesday 11th August, JRS UK held on online evening for those who were interested in finding out more about hosting a refugee in need through our ‘At Home’ hosting scheme.
Naomi, the ‘At Home’ scheme’s coordinator, and Nick, our Community Outreach Officer, hosted the evening to give a bit more information about the hosting scheme and how it makes a huge difference to our refugee friends. Naomi explained how the scheme works, arranging a three month stay for a refugee friend of JRS with a host with a spare room in the Greater London area.
If you live in London and would like more information on how you could host a refugee friend of JRS please get in touch with our Accommodation Officer Hannah: email@example.com
Naomi shared how, for so many of our refugee friends, finding somewhere safe to sleep at night is a daily worry. Many rely on sofa surfing with acquaintances, trying to sleeping on night buses or facing a night on the streets. Our hosting scheme seeks to provide a respite from the adverse affects of this constant struggle through the generosity of hosts offering hospitality and welcome.
Two such hosts, Miko and Dorothee, shared their experiences of hosting three different guests and said how great it had been to open their home. Dorothee spoke of the joy of hosting a guest over Christmas and Miko found sharing meals and tasting the cuisine from their guests’ home countries to be a real highlight. Naomi was able to share a message from one of their guests who spoke of the close bond they had built up:
“Finally, I find myself at Miko and Dorothee’s house. The comfort was present with a good and large bedroom. All was for my peace of mind. Their children gave all the respect and sympathy. We all were really close to each other. I met there many people, their friends and neighbour’s, all wonderful. This family gave me all. I remember Jim the cat and Nolly the Dog, both my friends. I left them but they still support me. A marvellous family.”
At the end of the evening there was the chance to ask some questions. For those who weren’t able to take part we thought we would share some of the Frequently Asked Questions we often get about how the hosting scheme works:
If I can only host for a short time what will happen to my guest afterwards?
Sometimes short stays are sufficient. We try to match your availability and offer of hospitality with the guest’s needs. We will do our best to find him or her alternative accommodation, if needed, after the time in your home or community has ended.
Can I contact a guest after the placement has ended?
Absolutely! We are always happy when a relationship continues after the duration of the placement. Many hosts have stayed in contact with their guests long after the placement ended.
Can a period of hosting be extended?
The At Home project usually recommends hosting for a maximum of three months. This is so all hosts can plan their rooms and availability, and also because if you are available and willing, we may ask you to host another guest after the three month period has elapsed. However, if the need arises we might ask both host and guest whether they would be willing to extend for a short period time. However, neither host nor guest would be under any obligation to do so. The onus is on the Accommodation Officer—not the host—to find a suitable placement for the guest.
Can I ask the guest to leave the house when I am at work or out?
Yes, of course. You set the parameters of the hosting. We just ask that it is discussed at the meeting between you, the guest and Accommodation Officer. This ensures there is a common understanding of what the host is offering and the guest expecting. It is perfectly reasonable to ask your guest to leave the house in the morning and to return in the evening when you are there. We try to ensure that guests know where Day Centres and other places of interest are located so that they have somewhere to go.
Will I receive financial support?
You should not incur any ‘out of pocket’ expenses through hosting with At Home, and we do not give hosts money for hosting guests. The guest should not ask you for money. This will be made clear to them when they apply for hosting and again at the placement interview.
I live rather far away from central London, would the guest be able to receive a travel grant to assist with transportation costs?
When a guest has important medical, legal, or social appointments, they can ask the Accommodation Officer for a grant. We want to make sure that a guest does not face extra costs because of the hosting scheme, but also want to be careful that all the people that we support– not just those hosted– are considered fairly for these opportunities. All our guests already receive a base sum of money twice a week to assist with travel or any other expenses guests might have.
Is it ok to ask a guest to clean their own room?
Absolutely! These are important things to discuss before a hosting placement begins, to avoid any misunderstanding, but a general rule of thumb is that it is ok to ask a guest to be responsible for cleaning their own spaces and common spaces as well (as long as this is a chore that is visibly shared equally between guest and host(s)).
Do we always need to spend time together?
No, chances are your guest will need alone time, just like you will. These different rhythms can be discussed throughout a placement.
We are in real need of new hosts at this time, as many of our friends who have been temporarily housed under the ‘Everybody In’ scheme could be facing a return to homelessness soon.
If you live in London and would like to have a discussion with our Accomodation Manager Rhiannon about hosting or would like any more information please do get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note the JRS ‘At Home’ hosting scheme is based in London, and as such we can only accept volunteer hosts who live in the Greater London area. If you’re not sure whether you can take part where you live, please contact us