Find out what hosts, guests and caseworkers have to say about Room for Refugees.
“Joanne, Mali and Eve are my family.”
Mohammed has been living with Joanne and her two daughters since May 2016. He is from Palestine but left as a child, living in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya. He has been in the UK for seven years, where he is seeking asylum, and was sleeping rough when Room for Refugees helped to find him a home.
We play cards a lot. Mohammed knows really good card tricks. What else do we do? We watch TV I guess. We play racing demon a lot, obviously. Eve, daughter of host Joanne, London
First time I come in here, I’ll never forget, Malila gave me a hug and speak with me. Eve is shy and Eve after two weeks spoke with me. And Joanne spoke with me. My dad is dead, my mother is dead [and] my sister. Joanne, Mali and Eve are my family. Mohammed, from Palestine
“Someone cares and that means everything just now.”
I have hosted people for varying lengths of time from a few days to five months. There have been some harrowing stories, including a couple from Afghanistan whose toddler died in an accident shortly before they came to stay. There was also a woman from Somalia who had seen some of her family blown to pieces. I have a supportive, loving family and it’s nice to share that with those who are far from their families Edith, retired Social Worker
My landlord told me I had two weeks to get out. I packed my clothes and asked the church to look after them. One evening I came home and found nothing there anymore, no bed, no mattress, nothing. I’ve been at Edith’s for 4 weeks now. We share a meal, sometimes go for a walk. Someone cares and that means everything just now. Françoise, student from Rwanda
“I’ve met some wonderful people who helped me along the way, and for that I will always be thankful.”
Hamid stayed with Alison, a primary school teacher and her husband Gen, an environmental consultant. They warmed to one another. Hamid stayed for a year and a half and describes them as “wonderful, inspirational human beings”.
Hamid jokes it’s like having parents and I suppose it’s a bit like having another son. We sit down quite often and eat together if we’re in the house at the same time. Alison, primary school teacher in Glasgow
When I think about the lost years, it does make me sad. But I’ve met some wonderful people who helped me along the way and for that I will always be thankful. My plan now is to complete my studies and graduate from university, then go on to be a nurse at Queen Elizabeth University hospital, where I have been offered a job once I qualify. Hamid, student from Iran
“He came to my mum’s for Christmas with my family.”
Malik is from Sierra Leone, but his father is a Belgian citizen and has applied for his son to be able to work in Europe. However, his documents became stuck at the Home Office, meaning he couldn’t work and became homeless. He stayed with Hena, a graphic designer, and Hugh, an architectural illustrator in south London.
It’s helped a lot. I don’t have to worry. It’s kind of given me a little bit of peace of mind. Malik from Sierra Leone
It was like having a housemate, We watched films together. He loves animation. We had lots of creative interests in common. I gave him one of my old skateboards. It’s how he commutes now. He came to my mum’s for Christmas with my family. They got him a jumper, I think. Hugh, architectural illustrator, London
“I actually feel more comfortable in my home now, because it’s being used.”
Grace from Malawi was homeless until she came to stay with Ken, an ordained priest, and his wife Karen, a librarian.
Hosting is the best thing anyone has done for me. When I was living on my own, I felt like I was always running, but now I have a place to stay, I am free. Grace, from Malawi
We’re at least as blessed to know people like Grace and to offer them comfort and security as they are in having those benefits. Ken, priest and civil engineer
I got very cross when I saw a Daily Mail front page which was both cruel and inaccurate about asylum seekers. I wondered what I could do to help so I registered to host with Positive Action a few years ago. I have a big flat and felt I could take someone in without it impinging on my privacy, which I value. It has worked out well. The sad thing is people can be left destitute and without a decision for a long time. Nasreen is a very considerate house guest Jo, Retired Professor and University Librarian
Room for Refugees is a fantastic service. It is a real lifeline for us in Brighton. We love the service because Room for Refugees almost always find a suitable host for our very varied demographic. They have decades of experience and a deep understanding of the politics of migration and the needs which result. Hosts love the scheme because they know we are on hand to actively do casework with our guests to help resolve their situation as fast as possible. Guests love the service because it gives them somewhere safe, warm, secure and even loving to stay whilst they are in the state sanctioned limbo which is the U.K.’s immigration regime. We couldn’t do what we do without Room for Refugees. Jason Berkson, Brighton Migrant Solidarity
Room for Refugees are amazing, they try their absolute best to try and find a placement for my client’s and are flexible in their approach. I’m forever in admiration that someone is able and happy to provide a space in their home for an individual going through the difficult stages needed to regularise their UK status. It gives a person space to concentrate on themselves and a sense of normality. Room for Refugees need to exist for this group of people, if they didn’t I don’t like to think of where this client group would be. Helen Bourne, Destitution coordinator, The Passage, London
Our family – myself, husband Tony, Eve (15) and Luca (8) – got involved after increasing despair over how refugees were being portrayed in the media and our government’s inaction. After Fatima and Mohammed moved in, any anxieties we had about hosting dissipated immediately. We bonded talking about food and cooking, our children and experiences of parenthood. They are kind and friendly and we have a lot in common – that was probably the most important lesson. My children got involved in helping another family and it broadened their understanding of others’ values and customs. Gwen, 34
Rather than you thanking us for hosting Salim we should be thanking you for sending him to us. As you know he has now been with us for 13 months and during that time there has not been a cross word said between us. He is the best House Guest anyone could wish for. He has enlightened us in the pros and cons of living on the street and has amazing stories to tell of his time sleeping rough. We continue to pray that he will be granted asylum in this country in order that he may begin to live a normal life that he so rightly deserves. Dallas and Eddie
The Room for Refugees programme continues to be a valuable source of support for several of our beneficiaries. These are people who would otherwise be street homeless and vulnerable to exploitation or to worsening physical or mental health problems. To have a safe, welcoming place to stay can make a huge difference and can help people to engage with their solicitors from a more stable position. Equally we have made several applications to the emergency relief fund for help with essential living costs like food and clothing, costs incurred in gathering evidence for asylum claims, and to cover other essential expenses in circumstances where people have no alternative provisions. Without these resources there would be very few options for destitute people to meet their essential living needs in Glasgow. Calum Lindsay, British Red Cross, Glasgow