During the media coverage of Alan Kurdi's death, a large number of people took to social media expressing a wish to help refugees, and frustration with the lack of effort by the the UK government.
Comparisons were commonly drawn between our isolationist reaction now, and the kindness that 1940's Britain showed by responding to the crises on the continent with the Kindertransport. People were frustrated, and many were keen to open their homes to refugees, offering spare rooms and hospitality, but with no way to reach the people they wanted to help.
As a charity with experience in hosting refugees, built over time, we wanted to capture this public outpouring of support to increase the capacity to host refugees safely, and expand to support refugees wherever they are in the UK.
Room for Refugees receive referrals from the British Red Cross, Refugee Council and other established immigration and asylum advice agencies.
We assess all referrals and we do not offer space to those with a history of criminality, violence or substance abuse. We aim to match guests who are seeking asylum in this country with hosts offering a spare room or empty property. Placements can be for as short or as long as you choose.
Hundreds of families and individuals have so far been assisted under the scheme, giving hope to thousands more and helping them to achieve stability in their lives.
Room for Refugees was pioneered by Positive Action in Housing in 2002. It is the longest running refugee hosting scheme, run by a registered charity, in the UK or Western Europe.
We went "viral" in September 2015, receiving extensive coverage from newspapers and other websites.
We specialise in safe refugee hosting for those facing emergency homelessness - offering a major practical resource in terms of a human and compassionate approach to supporting refugees to rebuild their lives with an unrivaled level of pastoral support - sharing what we have in the Western world.
We are building links with refugee organisations across the globe, and are accepting registration from potential refugee hosts in Scotland , England, Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Western Europe. We would also encourage potential hosts in Canada and the USA to register with us as we can then build links with refugee organisations in those areas - please email us for more information.
"Sara has become a friend and a family member to us. We know she has to move on and that you may have a place for her starting the 10th July. We are happy to have her here till that time." - Henk
"Yes Amina is still here and I'm quite happy to continue hosting her. It's proving to be depressingly slow getting anywhere with the Home Office. We are awaiting advice from her lawyer about whether we can go for a judicial review. And I can give feedback. Because she has been here so long she has become part of my life and I love having her here. I would say that we are a good support to each other."
"We have told Elias that this is his permanent address while he seeks a fresh application to Home Office and have indicated this to his lawyer in a supportive letter as it may help his application. A quarterly review is fine. Elias is part of our lives; we have a mutual respect for our Muslim and Christian faiths and we are supporting him through Ramadan. He is going to start English classes in August. My family are so fond of him . I am so glad we did this. I am reeling from the culture of xenophobia and worried how our exit from EU will affect refugees and migrants." - Fiona
"Yes, H__ is still with us. He is still waiting for his first appointment with the Home Office, in London – no date set as yet, it seems. No problems from our point of view so happy for him to remain for now anyway. He says he is sleeping better and has fewer panic attacks during the night." - Audrey
"Wahid is still with us and we are happy to continue with the arrangement until more permanent accommodation is arranged for him. He has been great to have around – very polite, conscientious and tidy – and it has been rewarding to help with his language and see him improve a little." - Briony
"Rather than you thanking us for hosting S__ we should be thanking you for sending him to us. We Praise and thank God that we are able to share the blessings that He has given us with such a gentle and kind man as S__. As you know he has now been with us for 13months and during that time there has not been a cross word said between us. He is the best House Guest anyone could wish for. We continue to pray that he will be granted asylum in this country in order that he may begin to live a normal life that he so rightly deserves" - Anon
Updated: 31 December 2017
Since 2002, Room for Refugees hosts have provided over 61,000 nights of shelter and positively transformed the lives of thousands of children, women and men from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.
Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, the programme provided 21,957 nights of free shelter. This is a 279% increase on last year when 5,781 nights of shelter were provided.
As of 31 December 2017, we have 6,700 fully registered hosts ready to offer shelter to refugees and those seeking refuge from war and persecution.
£1,096,450* is the estimated savings in the cost of shelter as a result of charities like the British Red Cross and local government using the Room for Refugees Programme for their destitute clients in 2016-17. *Estimated at £50 per night.
70% of our hosts (4,610) are in Scotland, England, Wales, N. Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
2,101 hosts are in the USA and this part of our work will be developed in the future.
350 external caseworkers from 221 refugee, homelessness and aid agencies across Scotland, England and Wales now part of the room for refugees network.
In 2016-17, the project made a significant difference for 265 families and individuals who were enabled to progress or resolve their legal situation and rebuild their lives.
At any given time, we have around 70 families or individuals being sheltered by our hosts. We expect this number to grow. In 2016-17, the room for refugees programme worked closely with social workers in 3 Scottish local authority areas, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayrshire, to successfully identify potential foster carers or hosts from its register for unaccompanied asylum seeker children.
156 families and individuals were actively pursuing legal resolution to their case. 52 families and individuals secured Section 4/95 or SW support .25 families and individuals got refugee status or some form of leave to remain. Two families returned voluntarily to their own country. 5 individuals were provided with free shelter while they pursued A Levels, Degrees and Diplomas. As a result of being hosted, 4 families were enabled to avoid Social Work removing their children because of their risk of destitution. Five families were reunited, after their dependents were able to leave war zones in Syria and join them in the UK in someone’s home.
- If you are unable to host refugees but would like to make a contribution, please donate securely here.
Donations go towards small crisis grants given to destitute refugees without recourse to funds. £6 pays for two small meals and essential bus travel of one destitute person for one day. Your donation, however modest, gives people hope to rebuild their lives. UK taxpayers please tick 'Gift Aid' to add 25% to your donation.
- Also, please get in touch if you would like to volunteer, donate, ask a question or send us a message.
- Many of our volunteers are networking with other hosts and guests in their areas - these hosting 'hubs' around the country provide helpful peer support. Please get in touch if you would like to set one up in your area.