Many who have hosted asylum seekers consider it to have been one of the most rewarding times of their lives. However each person (host as well as guest!) is different, as are the experiences they have lived through and the circumstances they are currently facing. Please note at the time of writing (June 2021) we have still suspended all new hosting referrals because of the Pandemic. This will be reviewed after restrictions are lifted (possibly July 21).
What is involved?
To be a BIRCH host an individual or household will need to have, as a minimum, a spare room with a bed and bedding and the capacity to provide food towards the guest’s daily needs. Guests will be able to obtain some of their own food in the form of food parcels provided by local charities, but are likely to need to share daily basics such as tea, coffee, bread etc. From time to time BIRCH has funding to provide expenses to volunteers who require financial support to host. We ask that hosts commit to at least two week placements as a minimum, as any shorter than this is rarely of use. The maximum placement is generally a year, although we have short-term, mid-term and long-term hosts within the network, and where necessary will provide several consecutive placements to guests whilst working with them to find a long term solution to their destitution.
How we support our hosts
We recognise that offering to share your home, whether for a meal or for a stay, can be a big commitment and we are on hand to support you and your guest every step of the way. Volunteers are fully supported by the Refugee and Migrant Support Practitioner who is only ever a phone call away. They will background check your guest before the placement begins its trial and will conduct regular review meetings. Our Community Hosts tell us that they feel very well supported and we pride ourselves on providing a high standard of support to everyone involved.
Would you like some more inspiration? In 2017 two of our wonderful hosts, Jim and Hilary, and their guest Yonaskindis* were interviewed by UNHCR, you can read about them and watch a short film here.
Read a recent article featuring one of our hosting relationships here.
Click here for our ‘Guidance for Potential Hosts’ which gives more information on what to consider when hosting, and an application form to get you started. Please get in with us if you require further information.
*not real name