Room For Refugees is a community hosting network that offers safe, temporary homes and pastoral support for insecurely-housed refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups - families, the sick, the elderly and unaccompanied asylum seeking children with no recourse to public funds.
We are challenging the "hostile environment" with a human response that is reaping life transforming results for everyone who takes part.
We are working with local authorities to quickly accommodate unaccompanied child refugees with long term loving families. We offer bail addresses for vulnerable refugees who are indefinitely detained for no reason other than fleeing persecution. We assist those with no recourse to public funds whose chances of resolution would improve by being sheltered so that their caseworkers can proactively help resolve their legal or housing situation. We are working to fast track people out of destitution or insecure housing and put them back on the road to rebuilding their lives, getting work or qualified in order to become net contributors to our community.
Working in partnership with over 300 non-profit organisations and agencies like the British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, and Shelter from the Storm, this model can bypass red tape and bureaucracy to ensure vulnerable people without recourse to funds can find hope and resolution.
Pioneered in Scotland in 2002 by the respected refugee and migrant homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing (SC027577) our successful placements give a level of pastoral support and community involvement that is life transforming. Those seeking shelter can find long term resolution, create bonds of friendship and interact on so many human levels with those who have room to spare.
Impact report 2018: 83,000 nights of shelter arranged, over 540 caseworkers part of our Scotland and UK wide destitution network, over 7,500 hosts, host networks all over the country, our US hosting model now in development.
Today we’re seeing the biggest movement of people to Europe since the refugee crisis following World War II. If you’ve come to this page because you want to respond to what you’ve seen on the news, thank you. The Room for Refugees network helps those who are seeking sanctuary to rebuild their lives.
Since 2002, we have placed thousands of people, for anything from a week, to months and years, and notched up tens of thousands of nights of shelter. Many of those we’re trying to settle are from Syria - as well as from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Iran, and many other countries suffering war, human rights abuse and environmental catastrophe.
Showing hospitality is one of the most practical and powerful ways you can respond. Our hosts are from all backgrounds and regardless of wealth, status or celebrity, we respect our hosts' privacy and treat everyone equally. We ask of similar standards from hosts, guests and caseworkers.
We have a social media presence but our primary focus is on consistently providing humanitarian support at a time when there are 23.5M refugees in the world and our governments are dismantling the human rights and refugee protections that were constructed in post war Europe.
Room for Refugees was pioneered by Positive Action in Housing (Scottish Registered Charity No SC027577) in 2002. It is the longest running refugee hosting scheme, run by a registered charity, in the UK or Western Europe.
"Like AirBnB for refugees"
We went "viral" in September 2015, receiving extensive coverage from newspapers and other websites. More recently the Guardian newspaper did an extensive photo essay about some of the people we host. See more press coverage here
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.
Many hundreds of families and individuals have so far been assisted and achieved life transforming outcomes, helping give hope to thousands more and rebuild new lives.
If you want to be part of the Room for Refugees network and want to offer temporary shelter to an individual or a family while they get their lives back on track, please register here or email us for a chat.
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.
Room for Refugees is a discrete and confidential hosting network providing safe matching of children, women and men who are refugees/asylum seekers with households in Scotland and the UK.
- • Provides safe shelter for people seeking refuge and pursuing their legal cases, who do not have recourse to public funds
- • Enables those moved by compassion and a sense of justice to offer space in their own homes or properties to someone in need
- • Brings hosts together in local networks to make their communities refugee friendly and aware.
Room for Refugees receive around 2,500 referrals each year of people at risk of destitution, from our own caseworkers, British Red Cross, Scottish Refugee Council, Freedom From Torture and almost 400 established refugee and asylum advice agencies.
Where we operate
Our biggest demands for hosting are in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and surrounding areas. We are always looking to increase the number of hosts in these areas which have the largest asylum populations in the UK. We regularly arrange hosting in cities, towns and villages across the rest of Scotland, England and Wales.
We also offer "respite hosting" so that households living in outlying rural areas can experience the benefits of hosting. And even if hosting is not possible, we are bringing together local Refugee Host Networks.
The US hosting programme is still in development. We have around 2,000 hosts registered in the US and are initially looking to partner with refugee organisations in New York City who can help us to screen guests.
Why be a host?
It’s about removing the borders from our hearts and our minds. Having a refugee family or individual to stay with you while they try to get their lives back on track is one of the most practical, life-enriching things you can do for yourself and for people who find themselves in a crisis situation.
Our hosts offer breathing space to families and individuals to work out their options, and get paperwork in order, so that they can begin the process of finding work, education, rebuilding their families, their lives and their future.
How to sign-up
- • As a "refugee host", you decide how long you can offer a spare room or property, according to your circumstances.
- • We screen all referrals to ensure a safe match with hosts offering a spare room or property.
- • Placements can be for as short or as long as you choose.
It’s like living with any other housemate
"I was a teacher in Darayya, Syria. I lost my wife and everything I had. I had been rough sleeping while my application was being considered. To avoid being in the street I spent most of my time in the library researching how to help my case. Alister and Eloise have been very patient and kind to take me into their home. One day I hope I can rebuild my life and repay the kindness they have shown to me." - Omar, Teacher from Syria
"I am an academic and my field is International Relations. We are in the fortunate position to have more space than we need and after discussion decided that we should offer our spare room to those who might need it. Living with Omar is like living with any other housemate: we usually eat together and have a chat each evening and he’s met some of our friends. It’s been fun." - Alister, Academic, Glasgow
Someone cares and that means everything
"I have hosted people for varying lengths of time from a few days to five months. There have been some harrowing stories, including a couple from Afghanistan whose toddler died in an accident shortly before they came to stay. There was also a woman from Somalia who had seen some of her family blown to pieces. I have a supportive. Loving family and it’s nice to share that with those who are far from their families" - Edith, 62, retired Social Worker
"I have a loving family in Rwanda. There were no worries and I simply came here to study. Once problems started in Rwanda my funding stopped. I claimed asylum and was given a fast track refusal. My landlord told me I had two weeks to get out. I packed my clothes and asked the church to look after them. One evening I came home and found nothing there anymore, no bed, no mattress, nothing. I’ve been at Edith’s for 4 weeks now. We share a meal, sometimes go for a walk. Someone cares and that means everything just now." - Francoise, 33, student, Rwanda
A film about our hosting project, by Megan McEachern
The opportunity to take positive action
"I got very cross when I saw a Daily Mail front page which was both cruel and inaccurate about asylum seekers. I wondered what I could do to help so I registered to host with Positive Action a few years ago. I have a big flat and felt I could take someone in without it impinging on my privacy, which I value. It has worked out well. The sad thing is people can be left destitute and without a decision for a long time. Nasreen is a very considerate house guest" - Jo, Retired Professor and University Librarian
We have a lot in common – probably the most important lesson
"Our family – myself, husband Tony, Eve (15) and Luca (8) – got involved after increasing despair over how refugees were being portrayed in the media and our government’s inaction. After Fatima and Mohammed moved in, any anxieties we had about hosting dissipated immediately. We bonded talking about food and cooking, our children and experiences of parenthood. They are kind and friendly and we have a lot in common – that was probably the most important lesson. My children got involved in helping another family and it broadened their understanding of others’ values and customs" - Gwen, 34
"Rather than you thanking us for hosting Salim we should be thanking you for sending him to us. As you know he has now been with us for 13 months and during that time there has not been a cross word said between us. He is the best House Guest anyone could wish for. He has enlightened us in the pros and cons of living on the street and has amazing stories to tell of his time sleeping rough. 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." - Dallas and Eddie
Our work has been highlighted in publications such as Private Eye, The Independent, The Sunday Herald, Reader’s Digest, The Herald, The Scotsman and BBC Radio 4
We are currently working with award winning photographer Robert Perry to document a visual history of the people we support towards independence.
23 Dec 2018
'The people who gave their spare rooms to Scotland's asylum seekers'
25 Feb 2018
'Positive Action in Housing asking for people to give a room to a refugee'
6 Feb 2018
'How to help refugees if you feel helpless'
26 Jan 2018
'Children of Europe Retold'
30 Dec 2017
'Meet the families living with refugees'
18 Jun 2017
'The kindness of strangers: the challenges and rewards of opening your home to refugees'
10 May 2017
'Airbnb for Refugees?'
8 May 2017
'It's like Airbnb for refugees': UK hosts and their guests – in pictures'
3 May 2017
'Room for Refugees - Farid' - BBC dramatisation
26 Mar 2017
'Medics reveal: refugees literally driven mad by the ‘draconian’ asylum system'
23 Sep 2016
Profile on Room for Refugees
18 Jul 2016
'Making an Impact: Three Ways to Host Refugees'
23 Dec 2015
'We are giving a Syrian refugee a home this Christmas'
3 Dec 2015
'Here’s how you can offer your spare room to a refugee'
11 Sep 2015
'How do I ... offer a room to a refugee?'
Latest Update: 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.