On Monday 2nd December some of the JRS At Home hosts gathered at the London Jesuit Centre to reflect on their experience of hosting a destitute refugee. Ten volunteer hosts and JRS staff met to share and reflect on their experiences.
The evening was rooted in the words of Br. Bernard Elliot SJ, founder of JRS UK:
“I think creating an environment where a person feels – almost – at home, is essential for the person to relax. When a person feels at home and secure, then their relationships can begin to grow and they begin to put down roots. They begin to enjoy being human. Happiness breaks through, which in turn gives the power to persevere, even when material requirements are at a minimum.”
Br Bernard Elliot SJ
Reflecting on Bernard’s words, staff and hosts spoke about the effect of “putting down roots” for an individual through hosting, especially if they have come from street homelessness or a very difficult living situation. The sense of starting to “enjoy being human” is often so tangible, and wonderful to see. Volunteers spoke about the dignity of being able to shut a bedroom door and have privacy, and for a guest to come and go as they please in the day, and how important these seemingly simple things are.
Naomi, our Communities of Hospitality Coordinator said: “We began with a group reflection on one previous guest’s journey; from sleeping rough in a train station, to being hosted through JRS, to finally getting their refugee status a few months ago. Hosting gives this ‘power to persevere’ which means that guests can have the strength to keep going and engage with solicitors and other services.”
Hosts were very generous in their sharing of joys, as well as challenges they encountered. One of our hosts, who currently has a young female refugee guest, reflected that she is simply “a joy” to have in the home. She shared how she was sitting around the dinner table with her guest a few nights ago, and how they were laughing and sharing a joke about the day, and how she felt that she was part of the home.
Another host reflected on the challenge of having guests who live such difficult lives , and whose futures are largely in the hands of the Home Office. Other hosts related to this challenge, and said that they can feel quite helpless but ultimately agreed that just by providing a room and a warm, welcoming environment they were making a difference.
We are incredibly grateful for our community of hosts, who do so much and inspire others by welcoming one of our destitute refugee friends into their home.
Inspired by JRS hosts?
If you live in the Greater London area why not find out more about opening your home to a destitute asylum seeker. Find out more about our At Home hosting programme or by contacting Naomi, our Communities of Hospitality Coordinator
Not in Greater London? Find a hosting scheme local to you through NACCOM (the no accommodation network).