What does Refugees at Home do?

Refugees at Home is the UK’s largest independent hosting charity. Our role is to match hosts with a spare room with refugees and asylum seekers in need of somewhere to stay. We will:

  • arrange for a home visitor to meet hosts to assess their suitability and readiness for hosting
  • seek to match hosts and guests according to criteria they have specified
  • liaise with referrers, who will carry out checks on guests and provide support outside of hosting
  • offer ongoing support to hosts throughout the placement
  • work with the guest’s referrer or the guest directly to facilitate a move-on plan for when the placement ends.

We match adults who take responsibility for their own actions. We will always do what we can to ensure a successful placement, but of course we cannot guarantee this.

We do not provide social work services or other regulated services (including care, medical or legal services) to guests, hosts or anybody else.


Who can be hosted through Refugees at Home?

Our guests come from more than 70 different countries. We can help:

  • People with refugee status
  • Ukrainians arriving into the UK through government-led programmes
  • Asylum seekers awaiting an initial screening appointment
  • Asylum seekers who have had their initial claim refused: whether appealing, preparing a fresh claim, or planning for voluntary return

We also support a small number of people who have ‘other’ statuses, for example those who have right to remain through a family member and whose relationship has broken down, or those who have been identified as victims of human trafficking.

We are not able to help:

  • Unaccompanied minors (people under the age of 18)
  • Ukrainian sponsorship rematch requests for placements not originally made by us
  • People eligible for statutory support, either via the Home Office or their Local Authority
  • People with severe mental health issues
  • Anyone with current substance abuse problems
  • Those with serious criminal convictions (including convictions for violence and fraud)
  • Anyone who is not engaged with the immigration system


Can you find hosts for children?

 We don’t arrange the hosting of unaccompanied child refugees. This is the responsibility of Children’s Services.


How does R@H assess guests before they are hosted?

Most guests are referred to us by organisations who are supporting them in other aspects of their status in the UK.  Those referrers assess each client’s situation and whether they are suitable for hosting.

Guests who self-refer to us are assessed by our Placement team and we seek at least one recent reference.

We do not accept guests who have substance misuse problems or serious mental ill health and any criminal issues must be disclosed.


How does R@H assess hosts?

One of our team of professionally qualified, experienced home visitors meets every host and carries out a home assessment prior to placing a guest.

In addition, all hosts are asked to provide two character references.


How long does hosting last?

Hosting can last for as little as a few nights or for longer periods. To date, our average length of stay of guests with hosts is about 100 days.

Some hosts offer emergency hosting – for one night to a week. This is usually very short notice, and are often for people who would otherwise be sleeping on the street.

Most hosting arrangements are for a few weeks or months. If a host needs their room back before the guest is ready to move into their own accommodation, we do our best to find another host to move on to. We always move guests if hosts ask us to.


How do placements end?

Everyone going into hosting should know that it is only temporary.

Placements can end for lots of different reasons.  In most cases, the placement will have a fixed duration from the outset. We expect our guests and referral partners to have a plan in place for what happens after their placement.

For those who are entitled to statutory support, such as NASS, the expectation is clear from the outset that guests will move to this.  Other move-on plans might include into privately rented properties, with friends, or emergency accommodation.  If another placement is required and appropriate, we will seek to re-host the guest.

In some cases, Refugees at Home must make the decision to end a placement early if things are not working out for either the guest or the host. Whilst we try to avoid having to do this, it can happen from time to time.


What happens if things go wrong?

Small problems can almost always be sorted out by talking things through. If you need help, then guests should contact their referrer in the first instance, and hosts should contact their Placement Coordinator with any concerns.

How can I apply to host?

If you have a spare room, or even a sofa bed, then you can apply to host via the Host information section of our website.

Before applying, please make sure you have read through all the information on our website, and that you have discussed hosting with any other members of your household.


Can I choose who I host?

When you apply to host we will ask you to tell us how long you are able to host for, and who you are willing to host.

We will also discuss with you any other preferences, such as if you would prefer not to host someone who has not been vaccinated against covid, or who smokes.  This will be recorded on your profile on our database so that our whole Placement team can access this and try to match you with a guest who fits your circumstances.


What support is available from R@H?

We support you through every step of your hosting journey.

Before a guest is placed with you, one of our home visitors will meet with you to offer advice, look at the accommodation being offered, and answer any questions you have about hosting.

Our Placement team stay in contact with you throughout the placement, and are available seven days a week if you have any questions or problems.

As the UK’s largest independent hosting charity we also have a wealth of information and guidance on our website and our monthly newsletter.


What should I do to welcome my guest?

We have advice and ideas for preparing to welcome your guests in our Information for hosts, and we also have a leaflet on Advice for new hosts, where hosts have shared their experience of welcoming with us.

Please remember that your guest will have been through a traumatic time before they reach you. Don’t ask them about their journey or recent experiences – you may be asking them to relive some of the most harrowing moments of their life.


Should I have house rules?

Every household has rules (although they may not be called that) and the hosting relationship works best if hosts and guests know what to expect from each other.

Please think about any house rules before you offer to host, and be prepared to discuss these with your guest when they arrive in your home.

You can see more information about establishing your house rules in our Information for hosts.


What if my guest doesn’t speak much English?

Our guests have different levels of English and we will always let you know what level of fluency they have. Some of our hosts and guests are able to communicate in another common language, whereas others find apps such as Say Hi and Google Translate helpful.

We have an Information sheet for hosts welcoming guest who have limited, or no English.


Should I provide food for my guest?

You may need to provide meals and snacks for at least the first few days. Guests who have access to benefits or who are working should be able to provide their own food or contribute to the household expenditure.

Some hosts cook a lot at home and let their guests know that they are welcome to join them for meals.  Some don’t, and make sure that there is food in the house that a guest knows that they have access to. You could ask your guest if there are any particular foods that they would like you to add to the shopping list, or perhaps if they have no income, give them some money to go shopping.

Most guests will want the space to be able to do some cooking for themselves, which might mean letting your guest know when they can use the kitchen. Many of our hosts and guests have reported that the opportunity to share food and experience each other’s culture through this is one of the real pleasures of hosting!

We will inform you of any specific dietary requirements your guest has before they arrive.  If you, or anyone in your household have dietary needs, we can make the guest aware of this prior to arrival, for example, you may want your guest to keep kosher or halal during their stay.


Could my guest need anything else during their stay – toiletries or clothes for example?

Most of our guests have some belongings.  On occasion someone being hosted after a period of street homelessness may have very little with them.  On these occasions a spare toothbrush and toiletries are likely to be welcomed – some of our hosts have these items waiting for a guest in their room.

Some guests may seem to be in need of certain items of clothing for example.  Certainly not all of our guests will need anything like this.  A guest could experience shame around needing additional items.  If you feel that you would like to offer items such as clothing, you will need to consider how you can do this sensitively to avoid embarrassment to your guest.


Are there any legal implications to hosting?

There should not be any legal implications as long as the guest is engaged with the immigration system or has the right to remain in the UK. As this is a requirement of all of our guests, for most hosts there are no legal issues. There are some exceptions, for example hosts who work for the security services. If you feel that you need legal advice regarding your position as a host, this would need to be sought separately as Refugees at Home isn’t qualified to provide this sort of advice to hosts.

Refugees will have the right to remain in the UK for varying periods of time and in some cases indefinitely. Hosting people who have the right to remain in the UK is legal provided that no rent (or other payment which might be construed as rent) is being paid.

All asylum seeking guests are referred to us by established referral agencies. Provided that guests are not paying any rent to their hosts and that hosts have no reason to believe their guests are in the UK illegally, we would not expect there to be any immigration law problems with hosting an asylum seeker guest who has an ongoing asylum application or appeal. Where a guest has exhausted the appeal process, more careful consideration would be needed regarding ongoing hosting.


Should my guest use my postal address?

Yes – guests may need to use your postal address for things like correspondence from the Home Office or to register with a GP. If you are not comfortable with this during a placement, please let your Placement Coordinator know.


What if I am asked to provide a letter to evidence my hosting?

All formal letters of this nature should be written by the R@H team. These letters could be to support legal aid, h=Home Office accommodation or council applications. Referrers have been known to ask hosts directly – please redirect to the Placement Team in this case.


Can my guest register with my GP?

If a guest is in need of primary health care they are entitled to register with a GP and access this. Some guests may not wish to do this and they should not feel pressured. If you have concerns please let us know and we will discuss any concerns discreetly with the referrer. Usually support is in place already but it is always helpful to know.

Care should be taken by hosts when encouraging guests to access different types of healthcare. Depending on the medical issue and the provider, asylum seekers may be billed large sums of money. Please seek advice when needed.


As a host, what are my financial responsibilities?

We will tell you what a guest’s financial situation is when a placement is made. Some guests will be completely without income, although others may be working or in receipt of benefits.

We do not ask hosts to give money to guests. Many hosts will offer to provide an evening meal for their guests or let them use the kitchen to cook their own food. Some hosts provide travel cards to help guests maintain contacts, get to appointments and avoid becoming isolated.

Refugees at Home offers a bursary payment to guests who do not have access to public funds.  You can find out more in Information sheet on finances.

How can I apply to stay with a host?

Most guests are referred to us by other charities and organisations helping them.

You may be able to apply directly to us (or ‘self-refer’) if you:

  • have refugee status in the UK
  • have a good level of English
  • have an idea of your ‘move on plan’, or where you will go after your placement, and
  • can provide details of at least one person who can give you a reference

Please read our Guest application guide and then fill in the referral form at the bottom of that page.


How will Refugees at Home find me somewhere to stay? 

Once we have received your referral form we will check whether we can help you. If we can, we will try to match you with a host close to where you would like to stay, although that might not always be possible.

When we have found a potential host we share the details with your referrer or with you directly. You can then contact the host and arrange for your arrival. This can seem a little daunting at first but our hosts are kind and generous people and will welcome you into their home.


Can I choose my host?

When we look for a host for you we will consider what you have told us about who you are willing to live with and where you wish to be. We will also check our hosts’ requirements, and who they are able to host for.

We have a very high demand for hosts, particularly in city locations, and we cannot offer you a choice of hosts to decide between.

We will never place a female guest with a single male host – this is to make everyone feel safe and to avoid any uncomfortable situations for guests or hosts.


What should I do when I am staying with the host?

All hosts and all homes are different. There is no ‘right’ way of being hosted, but you can find lots of advice on our Information for guests page.

We ask our hosts to have some ‘house rules’ so that everyone knows what is expected. Please make sure you understand these, and ask your host, referrer or Placement Coordinator if you have any questions.


What can I do if I am unhappy with my host or have a problem?

If you are unhappy about anything in your placement please speak with your referrer if you have one. If not, please speak to your Placement Coordinator.


What are my rights during hosting?

Guests whose hosting is arranged through Refugees at Home have the right to be made aware of our Safeguarding policy and Complaints procedure. You also have the right to have any complaint or allegation recognised and taken seriously, to receive fair and respectful treatment, to be involved in any process as appropriate and to receive information about the outcome.


Can I contact my hosts after I have left their home?

You and your host may decide to stay in touch after your placement ends. Some guests do not want to keep in contact with their hosts and that is OK too – the decision is between you and your host.

There are many specialised services who can support you with issues such as your asylum claim, housing and mental health. Please see the information on ‘Support’ for more details.


Can I receive support from Refugees at Home again?

In some circumstances, we are able to help guests who have already been hosted through us before.  You can either contact your Placement Coordinator or complete a new referral form.


Back to top…