HOW IT WORKS
Will you welcome a refugee into your home?
Hosting a refugee (or refugees) can be a really rewarding experience; but, of course, it's also a serious responsibility, and not to be undertaken lightly. Rest assured, though, at Homes for Syrians we do everything we can to make it simple, straightforward and safe, for all concerned.
You can choose to host a single adult of either sex, or a couple. And it's up to you to decide how long they stay, up to a maximum of six months - which we've found is long enough to enable refugees to get on their feet.
As we explain below, you'll have a detailed Hosting Agreement, which your guest will sign, so both sides know exactly what to expect from each other. What if things don't work out? We've had very few problems; but if any should arise, we'll step in promptly and find alternative accommodation for your guest.
Who you'll be hosting
We're here to help Syrians newly granted refugee status in the UK, who are often unable to find a room in a hostel, never mind a proper home of their own.
We verify their refugee status with the Home Office, before talking to them to assess their needs, and get all the necessary background information. As refugees, they will have been granted leave to stay in the UK for five years, with the right to work.
We help single adults and couples, to find homes. (We are unable to support families or vulnerable people at this time because the issues facing hosts are far more complex.)
A note on hosting single men
Perhaps understandably, many of our hosts choose to offer a home to single female refugees. But most refugees in urgent need of accommodation are men - many of whom have families stuck in Syria, Turkey or Lebanon.
So we would urge you to consider the possibility of hosting a male refugee. Thanks to our very thorough safeguarding procedures, you can be confident he will be a respectful and grateful guest. And bear in mind that refugees committing any kind of infringement (even getting a parking ticket) can lose their hard-won Residence Permit, so have very good reason to be on their best behaviour, at all times.
Becoming a host
We make signing up as simple as possible for homeowners - though, of course, we need to take care to ensure that our hosts are responsible people, who understand the commitment they are making.
So we'll ask you for two personal references, and, once we've checked them out, we'll discuss in detail what's involved in hosting, covering important topics such as food, religion, cultural issues and safeguarding.
As soon as we have the resources, our intention is to make home visits as part of our safeguarding precedures and provide practical advice where needed.
Posting your room, finding a match
Once you're registered with us, you can create a personal profile and post a listing on this site, describing the room or rooms you have available.
Refugees can then see your posting, and add it to their list of 'favourite' places they would like to stay. But they won't contact you directly. Our caseworkers manage all requests for accommodation, carrying out assessments, and matching potential hosts and guests.
As soon as we find a match, we will exchange information between you and your potential guest. And if you agree that it all sounds positive, we'll arrange for you to meet.
If all goes well, you would then make a firm offer of accommodation and agree the terms of the stay with your guest, using our Hosting Agreement - which covers everything from how long they will stay, to whether or not they will have a door-key.
Your role as a host
By providing accommodation for a refugee, you are giving something of immense value to a fellow human being, forced to build a new life far from home.
It's entirely up to you whether you want to help your guest (or guests) in other ways, such as learning English, adjusting to British society, or dealing with applications and other official processes.
We will discuss this in detail with you, so that your guest will know in advance what types of help and support you are prepared to give.
Although our main role is as an accommodation-matching service, we do provide a Host Pack and Guest Pack, containing all the relevant information - as well as posting further resources to help with integration, on this website.
If things don't work out, we we'll step in and find somewhere else for your guest to stay. And towards the end of their scheduled stay with you, we'll take care of arranging follow-on accommodation.
Safeguarding and insurance
Welcoming any stranger into your home is a big step, and one that may naturally raise some concerns. So it's important for you to know that we have carried out extensive and rigorous risk assessments, which have shown all risks to be low, and put in place detailed safeguarding policies.
These are very largely common sense, but we'll discuss them with you, and leave you with a Host Pack containing all relevant information.
Refugees have the same legal rights as anyone else, and are simply guests in your home; but we would always recommend you speak to your insurer and let them know that you have house-guests.
Ready to sign up?
We hope we've provided all the information you need to decide if hosting a Syrian refugee is something you would be happy to do. If you have any further concerns or queries, we'd be glad to hear from you.
But if you're ready to take the first step towards what could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, please do sign up.