Hope at Home, our newest associate member, is a nationwide hosting project that started in Worcestershire in 2016. The scheme bridges the gap in provision for victims of trafficking and asylum seekers, by providing safe accommodation, support and training. Thanks to Helen for sharing the story behind the scheme and an update about how it’s working.

How and why did Hope at Home start?

Hope at Home has evolved since July 2016. It began when our own family hosted a survivor of human trafficking and asylum seeker in our home for a year. The experience of hosting gave us the insider knowledge we needed to develop contacts with agencies who supported survivors of human trafficking, and we are now at a point of rolling out this project across the UK.

There is a huge gap in support for those who have been trafficked and been through the government system (NRM). At the end of this period (45 days of support and a bed in a safe house), people are not automatically entitled to discretionary leave. Instead they are left without recourse to public funds and at this point, may need support to pursue other options in order to stay in the UK.

When did you decide to become a national project, and how is that working practically?
This project would never work limited to one area. Referral agencies are across the UK in different locations and often the guest might want to be hosted somewhere completely new with a fresh start and away from their trauma and traffickers.  We need hosts all across the UK in order to be able to meet the needs of each guest.  Obviously this has implications on our time so there is more travel for recruiting hosts and liaising with agencies in different locations but we are trying to make best use of online resources for host training.
What are your biggest challenges at this time?
At the moment we are still in the ‘set-up’ stage.  We are waiting for our charity registration from the charity commission so while this is happening we are spending time putting together all the documents / policies needed.  This feels like a slog but we know it’s important to do.  Our biggest challenge is knowing where to find funding and once we have our charity number we will be working hard to send off funding bids.
Have you got any stories you can share about the impact of your work?

We have seen the transformative power of welcoming someone into your home. When she first moved in, our guest was withdrawn, anxiety-ridden and crept around the house (sometimes on her knees if she was going past us).  She tried to be our servant and couldn’t understand why we would accept her for who she is. Over the months, she gradually began to open up and began to enjoy family meals with us, outings to the countryside and we were even the first people to ever celebrate her birthday with her. Tears rolled down her cheeks as we sung ‘Happy Birthday’ and presented her with a cake and candles.  She moved out in July 2017 into her own flat just down the road from us.  She is a different woman. She laughs, smiles, chats with people confidently, is able to say ‘no’ and loves her volunteering work at the local hospital.  She still has struggles and her mental health takes a battering sometimes, but she tells us that no-one has loved her in the way our family loved her before, and this has given her a new confidence in her own identity.

To find out more about Hope At Home visit our Projects Directory