In the last couple of months it’s been great to welcome Swindon City of Sanctuary to the NACCOM Network as they have launched their hosting scheme. Recently, Nicola Johnson from the group took some time to share how the project began, and how they are getting on in these early stages.

When did you first encounter the problem of destitution within Swindon, and how did your group decide how to respond?

Swindon City of Sanctuary works very closely with the local charity ‘The Harbour Project‘ who run a drop in centre for refugees and asylum seekers who find themselves in Swindon (we are a dispersal town). One of our committee members, Annie works for The Harbour Project and mentioned that there was an increase in those visiting the drop-in who are facing destitution, and she had also hosted someone for a few nights who had nowhere to go recently. We then got in touch with Dave Smith, who attended our first meeting to help set up the hosting network here.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that you face at the moment?

We have recently gained funding for a part time development worker for Swindon City of Sanctuary, and as part of this our first three months has been focused on setting up a hosting scheme here in Swindon. There are many refugees here who have just received their Leave to Remain but are then finding themselves destitute whilst awaiting to receive things like their National Insurance number or having to leave their temporary accommodation at short notice. We hope to be able to help these refugees through our scheme. We fear it will be harder to gain hosts who will assist asylum seekers who have been denied their leave to remain but as we learn and grow the scheme we hope to find solutions to this potential problem.

How many hosts do you have signed up and has the scheme started yet?

We are in the very early stages of setting up the scheme but we had a good response and around 20 people turned up at our first meeting. We now have seven households ready to sign up to the hosting scheme and hope to keep growing from there.

We’d love to hear from your project if you’re interested in joining the NACCOM Network- visit our Membership page to find out more.