In response to rising levels of migrant destitution and increasing public support for refugees facing homelessness, NACCOM and Homeless Link have today launched the sector’s first ‘Hosting Toolkit’, a how-to guide helping members of the public provide spare rooms to migrants experiencing destitution.
The toolkit, which is accessible here, brings together expertise from across the sector to encourage the development of hosting as a practical response to rising migrant destitution.
The resource contains practical advice on setting up a hosting scheme, including recruiting, training and supporting volunteers, alongside examples of schemes in operation such as Housing Justice (London Hosting Network), Grace Hosting (LASSN), ASSIST Sheffield, Boaz Trust, Host Nottingham and Action Foundation. For a full list of current schemes in operation within the network click here.
What is hosting?
Hosting is the term used for when members of the public offer a spare room for free to someone- often a refugee or asylum seeker- who would otherwise be homeless. It is one of the major ways that civil society is helping to tackle destitution, with a 118% rise in the number of schemes operating across the NACCOM Network alone since 2015.
Beneficiaries are generally people who have had their asylum support suspended or stopped, but who are unable to leave the country. Other examples of people who access this support include those have been granted refugee status but face homelessness due to delays with accessing state support, housing and employment.
How many schemes are there?
Two years ago, NACCOM was supporting 11 hosting schemes. Figures released last year showed that this number had grown to 21 schemes, engaging around 300 households and 150 guests. Since then, the number of schemes has increased to at least 24 with several new projects starting up in recent months, for instance in Bolton, Swindon and Kingston-Upon-Hull.
Participants of Grace Hosting in Leeds explain in the Toolkit how hosting creates a stable environment where residents can concentrate on their asylum claims and find ‘hope and friendship’. One host explains their involvement; ‘We started hosting in March 2015 and have hosted many people, mainly from North Africa and the Middle East…. We’ve been able to connect with people through cooking and eating together and have met some really nice people as well as learnt some lovely recipes from different parts of the world… Sometimes we see people more than once, which has been nice because we’ve been able to get to know people more and have built up some good relationships. We’ve really enjoyed the experience and what we have always tried to do is offer a warm welcome. Having heard from some people who’ve stayed with us that they’ve experienced prejudice and hostility during their time in the UK, this is all the more important to us.’
Meanwhile, a volunteer with Host Nottingham describes how guests ‘feel safe and able to pursue their goals to remain and live happily in this country’. A guest who accesses their scheme writes; ‘l had never heard of the organisation before l came to Nottingham and when my solicitor mentioned where she was taking me I was really scared… but I was also desperate and jumped to the chance. On the 17th February, a day I will always remember, I was met by a staff member who was smiling, attentive, caring and non-judgemental. Having lived on the streets I was used to people who judge and pass you by all the time, so to have someone treat you like a human being that was really important. The couple I was placed with were very patient, caring, and protective of me and made sure I was comfortable and fed. There is something very special about someone telling you ‘this is your room and a set of house keys’ – it restored my faith in humanity.’
On the ambitions behind the Toolkit, NACCOM coordinator and co-author of the Toolkit, Dave Smith writes;
‘Volunteers and community groups across the country are showing extraordinary generosity by giving people in search of safety somewhere to call home. We want to develop this kind of practical and life-saving work whilst ensuring that the people running these schemes are properly supported along the way’.
‘By definition, destitution is inhumane. As a policy, it does not reflect the values of decency, fairness and hospitality that many people hold dear. In this way, hosting is about more than making space in homes. It is about doing life differently, and is an exciting and important conversation to be part of.’
Our thanks to Joseph Rowntree Foundation for funding the Toolkit and to everyone involved in its development.