Hosting a refugee family or individual while they try to get their lives back on track is one of the most practical, life-changing things you can do for people who find themselves in a crisis situation. The Room for Refugees Programme helps people in crisis situations who had to leave their country where they built their lives, their homes, their professions, their families and their friendships. The programme gives people breathing space to work out their options, get paper work in order, find work and a new home.
The People and Families our Hosts Help
Room for Refugees was pioneered by Positive Action in Housing in 2002. It is the longest running refugee hosting programme run by a registered charity in the UK or Western Europe. In 2015, the programme went “viral”. In 2017, the Guardian newspaper did a photoessay about some of the people being hosted. Many hundreds of families and individuals have so far been assisted, helping give hope to thousands more and to help build new lives.
We receive referrals from the British Red Cross, Refugee Council and established refugee and asylum advice agencies. We screen all referrals and do not offer space to those with a history of criminality, violence or substance abuse. We aim to match guests with hosts offering a spare room. Placements can be for as short or as long as you choose. If you are interested in becoming a host, please read the information below and then complete the online registration form.
With over 6,100 hosts registered with us, we are proud to make this form of support commonplace in the UK. We are looking to increase the number of hosts in London and Glasgow as these are the areas of largest asylum populations, and to expand the programme to the US. We have around 2,000 hosts registered in the US and are looking to partner with refugee organisations there who can process guest referrals.
Below you can read more about our hosts and the refugees they have helped.
If you have a spare room and think you could offer temporary shelter to someone forced to flee their country, you can visit our sister site Rooms for Refugees for more information or you can register to host a refugee here.
It’s like living with any other housemate
“I was a teacher in Darayya, Syria. I lost my wife and everything I had. I had been rough sleeping while my application was being considered. To avoid being in the street I spent most of my time in the library researching how to help my case. Alister and Eloise have been very patient and kind to take me into their home. One day I hope I can rebuild my life and repay the kindness they have shown to me.”
Omar, Teacher from Syria
“I am an academic and my field is International Relations. We are in the fortunate position to have more space than we need and after discussion decided that we should offer our spare room to those who might need it. Living with Omar is like living with any other housemate: we usually eat together and have a chat each evening and he’s met some of our friends. It’s been fun.” Alister, Academic, Glasgow
Someone cares and that means everything
“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, 62, retired Social Worker
“I have a loving family in Rwanda. There were no worries and I simply came here to study. Once problems started in Rwanda my funding stopped. I claimed asylum and was given a fast track refusal. 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.”
Francoise, 33, student, Rwanda.
The opportunity to take positive action
“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
We have a lot in common – probably the most important lesson
“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”.
“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 13months 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
If you think you might be able to host an individual or a family while they get their lives back on track, please register here or contact our team for a chat.
and almost 300 caseworkers from established refugee support organisations across the UK.
U.S. and Canadian hosts – the programme is being developed as we partner up with agencies in these countries, so please bear with us. the more hosts who register, the quicker we can build links with refugee organisations in those areas. For more info email email@example.com