We are excited to introduce Swindon’s new Hosting scheme ‘Room for All’ which aims to match destitute refugees to hosts who can offer a short-term spare room in their own homes.
Why is there a need for a hosting scheme in Swindon?
When an asylum seeker is granted their Leave to Remain by the Home Office and becomes a refugee, the feelings of happiness and relief can be quickly replaced by feelings of fear and abandonment. The Home Office will withdraw the basic accommodation and cash support of £36.95 per week after 28 days, their only means of survival.
In most cases, 28 days is not long enough to obtain documents such as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or National Insurance Number necessary to gain employment or claim benefits. It is certainly not long enough to save up a rental deposit. Once the 28 days are up, the refugee will be evicted and may become destitute, unable to afford food, sofa-surfing with friends or living on the streets. The Refugee Council have put together this report which covers the issue in more detail.
Host coordinator Jane speaks to guest Alex
So how does ‘Room for All’ work?
We piloted the scheme in May 2017, and are currently reviewing the scheme going forward. We are looking for more hosts and volunteers to help us run the scheme as it grows, and these are the most commonly asked questions we have received.
Q: How many people are in the scheme?
A: So far 4 guests have been matched with 4 out of 8 available hosts. Another guest was helped into permanent housing before hosting began. We aim to have at least double the number of host houses to guests at any point in time, so that no host feels overstretched. This will enable movement from one host to another if necessary due to a longer period of destitution.
Q: How long have the guests stayed with the hosts?
A: 2 stayed for 2.5 weeks each and 1 stayed for 4 weeks. The guest who is moving on in October 2017 will have stayed for almost 4 months by the end date. The length of stay is decided by the host prior to the guest being offered a room.
Q: Do the hosts cook for or with the guests? Do they give them a key?
A: All of these (and other) instances can be worked out and mutually agreed between the host and the guest, with the assistance of the host coordinator. Going forward we are looking to recruit seperate support workers for both the guests and hosts who can be contacted with any concerns.
Q: What if the guest does not want to move on? What if they are traumatised or need additional support?
A: All terms and conditions of the stay are agreed at the first meeting, and an exit plan is in place from the beginning. All guests are referred via The Harbour Project where they are well known, therefore any refugees requiring additional support would not be part of the ‘Room for All’ scheme, but housed by the relevant authority.