Referrer application guide

Most guests connect with us through organisations who are supporting them in other aspects of their status in the UK. We call these organisations referrers.

We work in partnership with many different organisations providing support to refugees and people seeking asylum. If you have not previously referred a guest to us, do get in touch to discuss how we can work together.

Please read the information below before making a guest referral to us. There is a link to our referral form at the bottom of this page.


Hosting is an interim, temporary housing solution for refugees and asylum seekers who are not eligible for statutory support yet. Our hosting programme cannot be used as an alternative to statutory accommodation, or in cases where we do not believe hosting will be beneficial for guest or host.

Great hosting can only happen when we work together. When we accept a referral from you, you’ll be signing up to our referral agreement and liaising directly with a member of our Placement team.  Please read the following information before making a guest referral. There is a link to our referral form at the bottom of this page.


Who can be a referrer

We accept referrals from charities or organisations of all shapes and sizes.  We ask that a paid member of staff takes overall responsibility for the referral and for meeting the referral agreement.

We do not accept referrals from statutory organisations such as local authorities.

Who can be referred

Refugees at Home can accept referrals for the following guests:

  • Refugees with Leave to Remain
  • Ukrainians under the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme and Family visa scheme
  • Asylum seekers awaiting an initial intake appointment
  • Refused Asylum Seekers: 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, those who have been identified as potential victims of human trafficking, and some guests who are involved in age-disputed claims. We will always consider these referrals on a case-by-case basis so please contact us to discuss before making a referral.

We cannot support:

  • Unaccompanied minors (people under the age of 18)
  • Ukrainian sponsorship rematch requests for placements made outside of us. You can find out more about this here.
  • Those eligible for statutory support either via the Home Office or their Local Authority
  • People with severe mental health issues
  • Anyone with drink or drug abuse problems
  • Those with serious convictions (including convictions for violence and fraud)
  • Anyone not engaged with the asylum system

The referrer’s role

As a referrer, you will be supporting the guest directly with their life outside of hosting. This might be applying for permanent housing, making a fresh claim, or other forms of support.  Our role is to support the host so that that the guest has a temporary place to stay for a specific duration and that the placement works well for all parties.

We will ask the following things of you:

    • You need to be available during working hours and to provide contact information for someone in your organisation who will be briefed to cover in your absence.
    • You must have the authority, or work with someone, who can sign the referrer agreement on behalf of your organisation.
    • You must have the permission of the guest to share their information with us.
    • If you have not known the guest for more than three months, you will need to work with them to provide a character reference.
    • We will expect you to brief the guest on what hosting is, and the limitations of this. You can use our Information for guests to help with this.
    • Throughout the placement, you will be the link between R@H and the guest. You will need to help the guest understand what is being offered, how to get there and to deal with any problems which arise.
    • We need you to help the guest with whatever they need to move on from hosting. We expect that you will explain to the guest you support that they must move on when they are offered accommodation. Those who are in the asylum system are expected to move to NASS, if this is possible, while those who are offered a room or hostel place need to be willing to accept any reasonable offer, even if it is not their ideal place to live.
    • If the guest has refugee status we assume that they will be working towards being able to manage on their own – learning English, developing their skills and looking for work. Guests who are working should be encouraged to save up for a deposit for a rental or building some financial reserves.
    • We expect you to stay in regular contact with us throughout the duration of the placement. If you withdraw your casework support from your client, we will end the placement.

    If things don’t work out

    Sometimes hosting arrangements don’t work out. As the guest’s referrer you will need to support the guest to move on should that occur. When possible we will find a new host but if further hosting is not possible, you will be responsible for providing an alternative move on plan.

    It’s rare but it happens – a host may become ill or have a family crisis, a guest may not get on with the host or find the journey to their college or work too onerous.

    When we become aware of a problem we will act quickly to resolve things but this may mean asking the guest to move to a new host.

    We take complaints and concerns from guests and hosts seriously. If your client ever feels uncomfortable in a hosting situation, please tell us immediately so that we can work quickly to find a solution.

    In very unusual circumstances, after hearing from all parties, we may take the view that the guest is not suitable to be hostedagain. We do not take this decision lightly and will always explain this to the referrer, and to the guest if that is appropriate.

    Sexual or romantic relationships between hosts and guest are never appropriate. This is made clear to our hosts. Referrers should ensure their client understands the boundaries of hosting and that if anything makes them uncomfortable, they should speak to their referrer.

    Most problems can be resolved – our hosts are supported by us, and we need you to support the guests so we can reach a positive outcome if issues do occur.

    The referral process

    Making a referral

    You will be asked to complete the referral form via the link at the bottom of this page.  Please provide as much information as possible on this form.  You must have the informed consent of the potential guest to submit this information, and their permission for us to hold this information.  Our privacy policy is available on our website.  R@H will not meet or interview the potential guest, as we rely on our referrers to know them.

    When you are considering referring someone to us, try to imagine that you or a member of your family were about to ask someone they didn’t know to come and stay – what would you want to know about that person? If you would hesitate to invite this person to live with you, then they are probably not suitable for hosting.

    • Please complete all fields in as much detail as possible. If there is information missing, we will have to come back to you to fill in the gaps and this can slow down the process of finding a host.
    • The information you give us on this form is the information we will provide hosts if we ask them to welcome that guest into their home – we are always completely open with them.
    • The more details you can give us, the easier it will be to find a match for your client.
    • Please don’t conceal anything. A guest with specific needs or issues can often be hosted, but a host who discovers them later can feel manipulated and the relationship may quickly break down. They may even refuse to host someone else in the future. Please be as open with us as you can.

    If you have only been working with the guest for a short period (three months or less) they will also need a character reference from someone who knows them well.

    Don’t forget to include your contact details on the form! We do need mobile numbers as well as office ones.

    Sharing information

    We are completely open with hosts about any guest we ask them to invite into their home.

    • All the information you give us about a prospective guest will be shared sensitively and confidentially, and on a ‘need to know basis’ with suitable potential hosts.
    • Anything we discover while hosting a guest will be shared with future hosts, including reasons for the end of a hosting arrangement.
    • We will not conceal information from hosts.

    Hosts know that they need to treat this personal information with care and respect.


    When an organisation makes a referral of a potential guest who they have not worked with directly for a minimum of a 3 months, or when we require more information when an application is made, we will look to gather a character reference from people who know the potential guest.

    We will ask referrers to provide us with the name, contact information and the way in which a potential guest is known to the person we will contact. 

    Wherever possible, the reference should be from someone who knows the potential guest in a professional capacity such as a College tutor, hotel or asylum accommodation manager, other voluntary organisations who have had regular engagement with the potential guest. 

    Assessing the referral

    Our Placement team will assess if the proposed guest is suitable for hosting based on the information you have shared with us.  While we fully understand that the need of a potential guest is urgent, it is important that we find the right host for a guest, and this may take longer than any of us would like. Once we confirm to you that we will accept the referral, we will begin looking for a host who meets the needs of the guest, and we will keep you updated along the way.

    We find that hosts are more willing to provide hosting to:

    • People who are vaccinated against covid
    • People who are willing or able to live with pets
    • People who are willing to live with LGBTQI+ hosts
    • Non-smokers, or those who smoke but are willing to smoke outside.  It is incredibly rare to find a host who will permit smoking inside.

    Accepting the referral

    Once the guest has agreed to the host’s offer, we will connect you with the host and you will be able to make arrangements for the guest to arrive at the host’s home at a mutually convenient time.

    When we find a host, we will need you to contact the guest and explain this to them – guests do not know us or the hosts and direct arrangements are, in our experience, rarely successful. They trust and know you and will rely on you to give them the confidence to turn up at the front door of a stranger.

    Ukrainian guests

    Our referral process for Ukrainian guests differs from the above, and you can read information about how we support people under the Homes for Ukraine scheme here.

    About hosting

    Our hosts

    All of our hosts are assessed by a trained and experienced home visitor – a volunteer or member of the R@H team with a professional background which allows them to assess people in their own homes. 

    Our hosts are all different:

    • Some hosts are busy working and can spend little time with their guest, others can include the guest in family meals and family life.
    • Some are single people, others have families or housemates, some are retired people or those whose children have left home recently, and a number are older people.
    • Some hosts have masses of space and a separate bathroom for the guest’s use, others offer a sofa bed or a blow-up mattress for use in an emergency for a few days only.

    What they have in common is their generosity and a willingness to open their door to a stranger and invite them to stay. Hosting is entirely altruistic. R@H does not provide payment for hosting – in cash or in kind. Guests can help around the house and should clear up after themselves, just as you would in any other guest/host arrangement, but there should be no expectation of the guest doing any sort of work in return for being hosted.

    • Our hosts provide a clean, safe and private place to sleep, and access to the kitchen and bathroom.
    • Hosts may provide meals or access to the fridge/cupboards for a guest to cook for themselves.
    • Some hosts will also provide things like English practice, assistance with accessing local services and offer friendship.
    • Others get on with their busy lives and expect their guest to do the same. Some hosts will give the guest a key immediately, others may do so only when they feel they know them a little. But they will always do the best they can to make their guest feel welcome.

    Hosts are not trained in mental health support or casework and do not necessarily understand the immigration, benefits or housing system. We make it clear to hosts that they should not provide any advice or comment on legal matters, however it should also be made clear to guests that should rely on their caseworkers for professional advice and support.

    We ask hosts to explain how their home works and we encourage them to have ‘house rules’ so that everyone knows what is expected. All guests should be careful not to disturb their host at night, to clear up after themselves and keep the home secure, closing doors and windows when they go out etc.

    Almost all hosts have a ‘no smoking’ rule and those who smoke need to check if it is OK to smoke in the garden.

    We advise hosts not to quiz their guests about their journey to the UK or the experiences which led them to leave their home country; and not to give advice on immigration or legal issues (even if they are qualified to) as multiple opinions and directions can be confusing for guests. If your guest has any concerns at all they should share these with you and we can then work together to address these.

    Our Information for guests explains more about this.  We expect that referrers will go through this with their client and explain what they can expect from hosting but also what is expected of them.

    Duration of hosting

    Who a host welcomes into their home and for how long is entirely at their discretion. Hosting can be for just a few nights or for longer periods. Stays of longer than six months are uncommon and generally we do not encourage these.

    Each individual placement is different and will last for different lengths of time.  At the point of referral, we ask referrers for a realistic idea of how long a guest needs to be hosted – we know this is not an exact science, but it’s important that we can be clear with our hosts and manage the capacity of the hosting we can offer.

    Guests may have to move between hosts during the period they are being hosted because of the hosts’ personal commitments. While we do what we can to keep this disruption to a minimum, please explain to your client that this does sometimes happen, and it is not their fault when it does.

    Some hosts commit to a short period of hosting and are more willing to extend when they get to know the guest.

    When considering whether to accept a short initial placement, it is worth remembering that once someone has been hosted once, it’s much easier to find a follow-on host as we ask for a reference from hosts at the end of a placement.

    Location of hosting

    We will always try to place people in the area they request but we are limited by host availability. We’re a national charity with hosts across all nations of the UK.   The demand for hosting placements in city-centre locations is extremely high and we will indicate to you whether we have availability in the preferred area so that you can speak to your client about how flexible they are willing to be.

    The more flexible a guest can be on location, the more likely it is we can offer a stable, longer term hosting arrangement. This is especially true for people seeking asylum as experienced hosts know these can be longer-term requests.

    During the placement

    During the placement, the Placement Coordinator will check in with you regularly to request updates on the guest’s move on plan that was shared at the point of referral. We rely on our referrers to be timely in their response and to also be checking in with the guest to ensure that they are happy and comfortable in the placement. Should there be any concerns, please raise them with the Placement Coordinator as soon as possible.

    Refugees at Home will provide all of the host support during the placement and will liaise with hosts on timeframes and any requests to extend placements.

    Referrers should not be contacting hosts with these requests. We find it places hosts in a difficult position and we are much better placed to support hosts to make these decisions and ultimately continue hosting in the longer term.

    Moving on

    We can only offer temporary, interim accommodation. You and the guest must have a plan in place to resolve any problems preventing them from being independent, with time scales and details of who will take this forward. Keep us updated if plans or dates change.

    When the placement is coming to an end we will contact you to discuss next steps. We expect that you will explain to the guest you support that they must move on when they are offered accommodation. Those who are in the asylum system are expected to move to NASS, if this is possible, while those who are offered a room or hostel place need to be willing to accept any reasonable offer, even if it is not their ideal place to live.

    If another placement is required and is appropriate, and if we have the available hosts, the Placement Coordinator will set that up, and you will support the guest to move to the new placement. If the guest must move from hosting, the Placement Coordinator will work with you to ensure that a clear plan is in place for the guest to move out and that the host and guest are aware of what is happening.