Hosting as a teenager

How would your teenage child feel about sharing their home? Sisters Adele and Caline describe what it was like when their dad started hosting and offer tips and advice.

Adele and Caline have shared their home with refugees and asylum seekers since 2019, when their dad Jon began hosting.  Adele is now 18 and Caline 15, but they were just 13 and 11 when their hosting journey began.

Both girls are strongly supportive of their dad’s decision to offer a room to those in need. Adele says, “I think it’s really good that my dad hosts. It’s so brave of these people to have left behind all that they know, and go through awful journeys to get here. One of our guests, Yemane came to the UK to try to find his son after he’d left Eritrea.”

Yusuf and Caline preparing a family meal

Caline agrees: “I like the fact that my dad hosts. It means we get an insight into other cultures. Hosting has given us different insights into how people live, and new viewpoints that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Growing up with my dad doing this, it’s been really helpful.”

“It was so heart warming to see how we had helped someone get on their feet”

For Adele, one of the main benefits of hosting is that “meeting new people and learning how to talk to adults and people without the same experiences as us has improved our common knowledge and prepared us better for the future. There will be people who don’t have the same upbringing and experiences as we do and it’s a way to learn from them. It’s also a good way to learn about different countries.”

The girls say they are lucky enough to attend very mixed state schools with a wide range of nationalities, including refugee children. Their friends have been very supportive of their hosting, and last year Caline was invited by her teacher to talk about her experiences at school as part of Refugee Week.

For Adele, some of the highlights of hosting have been sharing food and stories – “just having dinner and talking and learning. I like it when they cook for us and we can learn about what they would normally eat. Dawit cooked some Ethiopian food and it was really nice to try – I’d never eaten Ethiopian food before, and it was so interesting.”

Caline’s best moment so far has been when their first guest Yusuf, who now works at a tech company, invited them to his new apartment in Shoreditch: “we went and met up with him and saw him in his new flat, and it was so heart-warming to see how my dad and we have helped someone get on their feet with a job and everything like that.”

Both girls are realistic about some of the difficulties of hosting. Some of their guests have had different levels of English and can be shy, particularly in front of two teenage girls but “we manage to work out what they mean, and after a while conversations are quite easy.”

It can be challenging to have someone to stay for a long time, particularly at the end of a long day. “I guess sometimes as children you want to be just you and your parents. Having an additional person in your house can be difficult when everyone has been to work or school and it’s a private moment. But I think that affected me more when I was younger, now it’s just nice having different people to stay.”