The home visitor’s story

Refugees at Home couldn’t function without our team of home visitors – professionally qualified and experienced volunteers who meet hosts, assess placements and can provide continuing support.  Nick Watts describes what inspired him to volunteer as a home visitor, and what it is like meeting hosts in their homes.

Nick Watts is one of our most active home visitors. He is a child protection specialist based in Oxfordshire. He is co-founder and director of charity Together with Migrant Children and has been a home visitor with Refugees at Home for three years.

Nick was inspired to volunteer with Refugees at Home simply because “I like the concept of hosting – the idea of communities coming together to take a part in these issues.

“What keeps me going is the people – there are some lovely people at R@H who are incredibly persistent and have a way of hooking you in! It’s always nice to work with them. I find the home visiting experience really interesting – going in and out of people’s homes is fascinating. It fits with my ethos.

“For me, the purpose of the home visit isn’t just to check the physical accommodation. It’s the space for hosts to ask questions, find out more, really think about hosting. I don’t go in to tick boxes, just with an open and curious mind and to ask and answer questions.

“My main motivation for doing the home visits it is meeting new people. Hosts are an eclectic bunch! I’ve had people that are quite eccentric and have really interesting pasts. I could have spent hours talking about their weird and wonderful lives.

“I have had some really stand-out experiences from my visiting work. One young lad who was an age-disputed asylum seeker had got in with some not very nice people in London. We helped him move to a host in Oxfordshire. I remember showing up for a visit one day and the host was teaching him to horse ride. This emboldened, proud young Afghan lad shouting  ‘Look Nick, I’m on a horse!’ It was excellent. There are some really lovely things that happen in hosting.

“There have been a couple of hosts I haven’t signed off as suitable, which is probably a good thing because it shows the checks are so necessary. One striking example is a man who answered the door in nothing but his underpants and then said he wanted a young Ukrainian girl in his house…

“But overwhelmingly the vast majority of  hosts come forward out of a really good place, and I have met so many exceptionally good people.”

To find out more about volunteering as a home visitor, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!