Refugees walk, run, swim and crawl thousands of miles to get to safety. They rely on themselves to escape the horrendous circumstances they find themselves in, whether that be thirst in the desert or police trying to enforce border controls, or worse.
Some have lost friends or family members along the way and did not get to mourn them. Yes, they want to be recognised as refugees and start a new life in the UK but this process is far from straightforward.
Then came the pandemic and lockdown. Imagine if you had been refused asylum or were a refugee who had no stable accommodation and relied on sofa surfing with friends when this happened! When people shut their doors and did what they could to keep their loved ones safe, refugees no longer had the option of sofa surfing and again found themselves in the perilous situation of needing to survive – on their own.
On the bright side there are generous and compassionate people who offer their spare rooms to refugees and asylum seekers in need. Not only in a pandemic, but all year long through Refugees At Home, a UK-based organisation that focuses on accommodating refugees and asylum seekers temporarily. In the past six or so years, it has hosted almost 2,500 people and now exceeds 187,000 individual hosted nights.
Hosting is not just about offering a safe place to asylum seekers and refugees when they have no statutory support, but about restoring belief in humanity.
Hosts and guests tell us the experience is emotionally and intellectually enriching to both
A smile and a warm cup of tea would go a long way for someone who has experienced nothing but rejection since they left their homeland. We have seen mentorship and long-lasting friendships sparked from hosting.