SHARETAWE is a project of Swansea Asylum Seekers Support – Charity No: 1175186
What does Share Tawe do?
We run a voluntary hosting scheme, asking local households to offer a room in their home for a destitute asylum seeker. Our ultimate goal is to provide sufficient support and security to enable people to focus on gaining the right to stay in the UK.
Why might an asylum seeker be destitute?
When people first apply for asylum, they are given accommodation and an allowance of just over £5 per day. However, many asylum seekers are refused after a Home Office interview. Also, restrictions on Legal Aid, and the difficulty of obtaining evidence often lead to appeals to a tribunal being impossible or unsuccessful. At this point the Home Office will declare an asylum seeker “appeal rights exhausted” and will take away their support they are then left with nowhere to stay, no money and are not allowed to work. With proper legal help, they often go on to prove their case. Share Tawe offers security in this challenging time. Although only 3 guests have been detained during our 8 years of existence, this fear is ever present.
How do we make the scheme work safely and comfortably?
- We interview and take up references on both guests and hosts. We monitor placements carefully.
- Careful placements. We accept that we cannot place everyone who needs us. We aim for a good match between guest and household, considering, for example, gender, family composition and general compatibility.
- Hosts meet guests before placement
- We sometimes ask an experienced host to assess a new guest before placement elsewhere
- We offer support for hosts and guests, and help households find a way of hosting that suits how they want to live.
An Update on Funding
A week’s stay costs anything from £0 to £40 per week. For example: £70 will buy a monthly bus ticket for guests living outside the city centre to go to appointments, sign with the authorities, access drop ins, English classes, and simply live an independent life. £20 per week makes a small contribution to hosting costs – bills, food, etc.
Since April 2017 a salary for a development worker and additional costs have been covered by a 2-year grant from Lloyd’s Bank Foundation. Thanks to an additional grant from No Accommodation Network (Naccom) we hope to continue on current funding until the end of 2019. We are actively seeking grants to give us a longer-term future. In the meantime, donations help us to build long-term security for the scheme.
A snapshot of our activities in 2018
- We hosted 15 asylum seekers and 1 temporarily homeless refugee. 10 had stayed with us in 2017, and 6 were new to the scheme. We welcomed 6 women and 10 men, between 21 and 60, and from 11 different countries. We provided 3061 “bed nights”
- What happened to our guests? 14 moved on from the scheme. Of these, 9 revived their legal case by submitting fresh evidence and were entitled to renewal of Home Office support and accommodation (“Section 4”). One of these has already gained leave to remain, and we are hoping that the others will be similarly successful in 2019. 5 others left to stay with friends.
- Support for guests included: liaison with solicitors; regular support meetings; individual meetings; referral to volunteer opportunities; facilitation of medical and mental health support; a “WhatsApp” group for mutual exchange of ideas, and for highlighting activities of interest.
- 2 guests attended a residential event on community reporting, organised by the No Accommodation Federation, NACCOM. They are now recruiting others and taking part in an IT course to learn how to make videos on their experience. Guests have also been invited to help co-design online training for NHS staff, which will provide information on the experience of being asylum seekers and the effects on their health.
What next in 2019
- Continue this vital work
- Work for the long-term future of the project – which will be 10 years old in 2020
- Continue to encourage guests to be advocates for the work
- Share knowledge with guests which can help them deal with their situation better
How can you help?
- Consider hosting yourself – or with a small group of friends. Contact Hannah Sabatia our development worker to find out more about the project and to discuss whether it would work for you. Hosting can be long or short term; a guest can be “a part of the family” or non-paying, but welcome lodger receiving bed and breakfast
- Donate or raise money
- Invite us to give a talk at your workplace, political party branch, community or faith group
- Talk with us about other opportunities to help – e.g. additional support at times of crisis, help with developing new accommodation models; working on the sustainability of the project.
For more information
Contact Hannah Sabatia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07429 131100.
(Hannah works Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
Updated January 2019