To offer hospitality, in the form of accommodation, meals, welcome and solidarity to destitute asylum seekers in Swansea. We do this through volunteers who offer a room in their home, or who support the scheme in other ways.
WHO ARE WE?
A sub-group of Swansea City of Sanctuary, working in partnership with other organisations, for example, Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Group, Welsh Refugee Council, Shelter Cymru. We currently organise the scheme voluntarily, but are in the process of applying for money for a paid worker and to develop other ways of helping destitute asylum seekers.
We have nothing to do with the Home Office or any other Government Agencies
WHY DO ASYLUM SEEKERS BECOME DESTITUTE?
When people first claim asylum, they are given somewhere to live and a small amount of money per week while their case is examined. If they are successful, they are granted “leave to remain” in the UK and are then allowed to seek work. If they are refused, and if they have no dependent children, they are usually evicted from their accommodation, and are not given any money by the government. They are not allowed to work. They have absolutely nothing to live on.
DOES THIS MEAN THAT THEY ARE NOT IN DANGER OF PERSECUTION?
No. They often go on to challenge the decision to refuse them, and are able to prove that they are in danger.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
- Offer a room in your home to a destitute asylum seeker for a night, a weekend, or longer
- Raise or donate money so that we can support guests and hosts financially – e.g. with bus fares, money for food, bills etc. Standing orders are a really helpful way to donate personally
- Help with running the project and publicising it
- Tell others about the project
- Support a host – e.g. by offering a meal in your own home, or by offering to accommodate their guest for a short time when they need a break or have guests. A group of 2 or 3 households could offer someone in destitution longer term security
HOW DOES THE HOSTING PROCESS WORK?
- One of our organisers (often a volunteer), will meet you to discuss the practicalities of your hosting “offer”. For example:
- Likely length of stay
- What you can offer your guest – Just a bed? Space to cook? Some meals?
- What doubts you have about hosting and how it might work for you and your household. E.g. How much privacy you might need? What will happen if things don’t work out? What financial support might help if funds allow?
- Whether you might be most comfortable hosting a man, a woman, a couple etc
It is important that hosts feel comfortable with the arrangements made – It is their HOME!
- If someone asks for help and we think that there might be a match between what they need and what you can offer, we will get in touch with you and see whether you might be able to help them. We will tell you something about the guest
- We will discuss with the guest separately the general rules of the project, and the some of the “ground rules” which you think will make the placement work. They will also have the chance to say how it might work for them, and what their concerns are. It is not easy to live in someone else’s house!.
- We will introduce you to each other, and if both sides are happy to proceed we will bring the guest to your house and you will both sign an agreement, detailing how things need to work between you.
- We will review the placement within an agreed time, for example a week.
HOW DO WE MAKE THE PLACEMENT “SAFE” FOR GUESTS AND HOSTS
- We take up references on both guests and hosts
- We take care over who we place with whom.
- We know that we cannot place everyone – particularly if they have a mental health, alcohol or drug problem, or if we simply do not know enough about them. We tell hosts exactly what we know and don’t know about the guest before they take their decision.
- Hosts and guests have the right to terminate a placement at any time at a day’s notice.
This is not a risk free process, and is run currently by volunteers. However, this scheme has been running now for about 6 years in Swansea and has been modelled on schemes elsewhere in the UK. We asked the organiser of a huge scheme run in the North of England recently if there had been any serious incidents since they had been running their scheme. He said that apart from one minor petty theft no incidents likely to cause harm to people or property had been reported. Each placement takes time
HOW WILL I FIND OUT MORE?
Contact the scheme coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org