As of October 30th 2017, Room for Refugees has 6,700 refugee hosts all over the UK (and parts of the USA). We have arranged over 42,000 nights of shelter since the the global refugee crisis went viral in September 2015. In that time our volunteers have accommodated hundreds of men, women and children and helped keep people safe and together in order that they can get the breathing space to resume their difficult journey to secure leave to remain here and start to build their lives.
How to refer someone to Room for Refugees
Each paid caseworker who intends to make a referral should first register
Once the account is approved, usually within a day or so, read all the guidance and make your first referral. (For especially urgent vulnerable cases, email email@example.com first to say you need an account quickly).
We will then assess the referral and search for suitable hosts.
Once a host(s) is identified we will contact you and start the screening process. (For caseworkers who are new to the scheme, we advise you to read all the information that you are sent so you are clear about your responsibilities, before, during and at the conclusion of the hosting arrangement).
Once an arrangement is agreed upon we will issue a personalised hosting agreement and monitor the stay with the caseworker, host and guest until the caseworker achieves a positive resolution.
How it works
Room for Refugees is a last resort emergency hosting programme for vulnerable refugees and those seeking refuge who are at risk of destitution.
The hosting process gives an invaluable opportunity for refugee support agencies to work on cases and stabilise clients so that they are able to re-access public funds or even resolve their case so that the right to live in the UK is granted to them. We also work with social workers from local authorities seeking loving homes for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children.
The programme has been running for 15 years and has established procedures to make hosting a safe and rewarding experience for everyone.
We have hosts with spare rooms, granny flats, separate homes or caravans to offer to potential clients. We also have hosts who let rooms through AirBnB and offer is free rooms.
Basically, our hosts are offering free temporary spare rooms in their homes, self contained flats or separate residences to those seeking refuge in this country while they attempt to resolve a crisis situation and build new lives. Our hosts tend to be highly educated about the refugee crisis. Many understand the impact on those already in the UK; delays with the Home Office in getting their status processed properly so that they can go into work, pay taxes and rebuild their lives.
Our online system – REFER – lets caseworkers from refugee and migrant support organisations quickly find suitable hosts for their clients. We primarily assist refugees and those seeking asylum or leave to remain in this country who have no accommodation or recourse to funds.
We provide caseworkers with a simple online form to refer new clients for the first time. You can also refer previous clients again for hosting with another volunteer, perhaps towards the end of a stay or if circumstances have changed. We also provide a history of all your past clients you have referred in the past, so you can see the progress and outcome of previous and ongoing cases.
Once the referral is accepted, our staff will conduct a systematic search of potential hosts. This could take a few hours or a day or two depending on the case. We will then approach potential hosts.
When a host indicates they are available, we provide you their details. Guidance is provided on this. After you have met the host with the client, the host will decide, usually within a day, whether to accept your client as a guest. this also gives time for your client to understand that they would potentially be living as a guest in the host’s home, and according to their house rules, i.e. they will not be tenants and have no rights of residence.
When a host agrees to take your client as a guest, you would accompany your client to their home to discuss and sign hosting agreement and code of conduct. Scans of hosting agreements and photographs are also requested of the host and guest, and the bedroom space for our internal records.
Our work has been highlighted world wide. The Guardian newspaper did a photo essay about some of those we have assisted and you can read about it here. The Borgen Project has urged people to host refugees through our programme. We worked with Magnum Photos and their photojournalists. An up and coming exhibition entitled Magnum Retold is happening here. Our work has also been highlighted in The Private Eye, The Independent, The Sunday Herald, Reader’s Digest, The Herald, The Scotsman, The BBC, Radio 4. And we are currently working with award winning photographer Robert Perry to document a visual history of the people we support towards independence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are you?
“A small charity doing a big thing.”
That’s how one of our founding members, David Orr, CEO of the National Housing Federation described us! So true!
Room for Refugees is a hosting programme. It was pioneered in 2002 by a small registered charity based in Scotland – Positive Action in Housing (SC027577). We have 15 years expertise in safe hosting of vulnerable people from refugee and migrant communities in the homes of volunteers.
Note: Room for Refugees should not be confused with any similar sounding new hosting programmes. We operate very differently from other programmes.
Who will you accept as a referral?
Anyone seeking refuge, asylum or leave to remain in this country is eligible. The important point is that they are destitute or homeless without any alternative accommodation and are actively engaged in finding a resolution to their homelessness situation and/or legal case. Caseworkers should be confident that their clients can live peaceably as temporary guests in someone else’s home, contribute to the household by helping with simple chores, meals and according to their host’s house rules.
Who will you not accept as a referral?
Anyone who has a background of criminality or violence, severe mental health problems, or who abuses drugs or alcohol or any other substance, or who poses a potential risk to the host will probably not be suitable.
Are all your hosts DBS/CRB/PVG checked?
No. Some of our hosts are disclosure checked and some aren’t. However, we encourage all hosts who are not checked to start the process of being checked for disclosures. However in an emergency hosting situation with no alternative, it’s a careful balancing act and we will work with the guest’s caseworker so we are all satisfied that the placement is safe and can work. We will expect caseworkers from refugee support organisations and local authorities to risk assess the potential match and do their own screening for risk when a potential match is being considered. We also request character references from reputable sources and do identity checks to establish identity and current place of residence. If the potential guest is a vulnerable person and/or includes children, then we will insist on enhanced disclosures.
Our list of referral partners at the time of writing (October 2017)
Aberdeenshire Council Achieving For Children Action for Refugees in Lewisham AFRIL (Action for Refugees in Lewisham) Ahlan Wa Sahlan Alison Thewliss MP Amina Muslim Women's Resource Centre Ashford Place Ashley Community Housing Athena Refuge Athena Service ATLEU Bail for Immigration Detainees Barnardo's Birmingham Hall Green constituency Blue Door Project Blue Mountain (Arch) Body and Soul BRASS Bridges Programmes Brighton Migrant Solidarity Bristol Citizens Advice British Red Cross British Red Cross (Bristol) British Red Cross (Chelmsford) British Red Cross (Leeds) British Red Cross (Leicester) British Red Cross (London) British Red Cross (Luton) British Red Cross (Maidstone) British Red Cross (Milton Keynes) British Red Cross (Newport) British Red Cross (Plymouth) British Red Cross (Sheffield) British Red Cross Refugee Services (Glasgow) British Red Cross Refugee Support British Red Cross, Leicester Refugee Services C4WS Homeless Project C7 Church Cadder Housing Association Carlisle Foodbank CEO - Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum Children and Families Social Work, Falkirk Clyde Nursery and Children's Centre Community Infosource Con Cunningham Solicitors Coram Voice Cornerstone Day Centre Creative Youth Network Crisis Darla Eno DASS and SRC Destitution Project Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support Drumchapel Citizens Advice Bureau Drummond Miller Duncan Lewis Solicitors Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ed Miliband MP Ella's Home Ethnic Minorities Law Centre Freedom From Torture Freedom From Torture North West Freedom from Torture Salford GARAS Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group GEMAP Glasgow City Mission Glasgow Clyde College Glasgow Night Shelter Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service NHS GG&C Glasgow Vineyard (Storehouse) Gloucestershire Nightstop Govan and Craigton Integration Network/ The Unity Centre Great Chapel Street Surgery NHS Hackney Community College Hackney Doorways Hackney Migrant Centre Hackney Winter Night Shelter Haringey Migrant Support Centre Helen Bamber Foundation Hestia Hestia Homelessness Prevention Initiative - Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust Hope Housing Hope housing trainning and support Humanity Crew Independent - Catherine Wren Integrated Care Network Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants Jaycon Solicitors JHM Global Scotland Just for Kids Law Kent Refugee Action Network Kirsten Oswald MP Lanarkshire Rape Crisis Centre Latta & Co. Solicitors Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network Margaret Ferrier MP Martha House McGlashan MacKay Solicitors Medical Justice Migrant Help Migrants Organise Migrants Organise National Youth Advocacy Service New Hope NHS NHS - GMMH mental health trust NHS and friends NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde NNLS Drop in No Second Night Out (North Hub) No Second Night Out (West Hub) North Ayrshire Council North East London Migrant Action North of England Refugee Service Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum One Housing Group Oxford City of Sanctuary and Emmaus Oxford PAIH Paiwand Afghan Association Paragon Law Paul Hamlyn Foundation positive action Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers Positive Action in Housing postive action in housing Praxis Community Projects Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund Project 17 RAPAR RAY -Refugee Action York REACHE North West RefuAid Refuge Refugee Action Refugee Action Kingston Refugee Connection Refugee Council Refugee Radio Refugee Support Devon Refugee Survival Trust Revive Manchester RH & Co. Solicitors RISE CIC Riverhouse Trust Rochdale Boroughwide Housing Room to Heal Room to Heal Rt. Hon. Ann Clwyd M.P. Saheliya Glasgow Samphire Sante Refugee Mental Health Access Project Scottish Detainee Visitors Scottish Disability Equality Forum Scottish Guardianship Service Scottish Refugee Council Sharedydd shelter Shelter from the Storm Side by Side with Refugees sikh Sanjog Slough Refugee Support SOAS Detainee Support SOAS, University of London Social Work Services, Glasgow South London Refugee Association Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers Southwark Law Centre Spark2Life St Andrew Community St Andrews Church Bo'ness St Mungos St Mungo's Stepping Stones for Families Streatham Drop-in Cemtre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees Sussex Beacon TARA Service Terrence Higgins Trust Thames Reach homeless organisation The Baobab Centre The Children's Society The connection at St Martins The Connection at St Martin's The Connection at St. Martin's The Connection at St.Martin's The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network *TERN The Hummingbird Project The Marie Trust The Migrant's Law Project, Islington Law Centre The Passage The Passage The Recovery Hub Ipswich The Rock Trust The Salvation Army The Unity Centre The Worldwide Tribe Trinity Centre Trust Women's Project United Church, Dorchester Unity unity centre Verne Visitors Group Victim Support Voices in Exile Watford and Three Rivers Refugee Partnership Waverley Care Waverley Care African Health Project, Glasgow West Dunbartonshire Council Wilson Solicitors LLP Women for Refugee Women Young Roots