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?
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.
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 When she first moved in, our guest was withdrawn, anxiety-ridden and crept around the house (sometimes on her knees if she was going past us).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.