Birmingham Community Hosting Network is a volunteer led charity working to harness the enthusiasm of local people to offer friendship and hospitality to people.
Birch network’s main purpose is to offer support and friendship to people seeking sanctuary, who are on the periphery of society. We focus on three main groups: migrants with no recourse to public funds who are experiencing destitution, young people who arrived in the country as unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and finally newly arrived asylum seeking families living in temporary accommodation.
We are a volunteer led charity that harnesses the hospitality of the local community with a view to making Birmingham become a welcoming city of sanctuary to migrants. Our volunteer network aims to relieve destitution and increase the resilience and well being of our beneficiaries.
We undertake a number of activities to achieve these aims:
- We run a hosting network for vulnerable asylum seekers who are in danger of becoming destitute. We have a network of volunteer hosts who provide a room in their homes and emotional support to the person hosted.
- We run a family befriending project for unaccompanied asylum seeking children/young people. We have a network of volunteer families who meet young people on a regular basis. Each young refugee is matched with a trained volunteer family who offer to meet with them weekly or fortnightly in the family home. Young people benefit from being welcomed into a family environment. They feel included, supported, appreciated and safe in their host family’s home.
- We provide a weekly family fun session for newly arrived asylum seeking families & children where volunteers provide a welcoming space for families in initial accommodation and play activities for children. The sessions aim to reduce isolation, and promote cohesion between the newly arrived refugees and their local communities.
- We offer outreach activities and support to asylum seekers living in initial accommodation hotels across Birmingham. The project aims to offer welcome and support to newly arrived asylum seekers and a range of activities and advocacy support to help reduce isolation and improve their wellbeing.
- We engage with other migrant organisations and networks so we can cross refer and support our beneficiaries in a holistic way.
- We participate in research, policy and lobbying work to try to bring about systemic changes to improve the immigration and asylum system in the UK and the impact it has on migrants who are on their journey through the system. Some of our service users recently participated in report from Asylum Matters highlighting the detrimental impact institutional asylum accommodation has on asylum seekers: In a Place Like Prison. We also are a signatory to the West Midlands pledge opposing the current anti-refugee bill going through Parliament, read the full pledge here.