99% of the information below is applicable to all Londoners enquiring about hosting
Your hospitality can change someone’s life
Do you have a spare room that you could offer to a homeless asylum-seeker, refugee or other migrant in need?
The Compassionate Communities team within the Diocese of London are working in partnership with Housing Justice to provide temporary accommodation for London’s destitute asylum-seekers, refugees and other forced migrants while they resolve their immigration status. Hosts provide invaluable respite for people who have come to the UK, often fleeing persecution or war, and have then been forced into years of destitution by a hostile immigration system.
“When did we see you a stranger and invite you in?”
Hosting offers a practical and supported way for Clergy to provide the safety and stability such people urgently need. You do not need to be a member of the clergy to become a host though – you just need to live in London and have a spare room. Clergy Hosting has the support of the Bishops in the Diocese of London together with the Diocesan Registry, the Safeguarding and Property Teams.
Keep reading to learn more or click here to register your interest in becoming a host.
What is hosting?
Being a host simply means opening up your home to somebody in need – somebody who has been through a lot and has nowhere else to turn. Receiving a guest into your home is a unique, humbling and deeply enriching experience.
Guests are referred to Housing Justice by recognised agencies and then hosts are invited to offer hospitality in their season of need. Hosts and guests are fully supported throughout. You can choose to host for a few weeks, a few months or longer. Hosting is like inviting any other guest to stay in your house: we do not expect professional support to be offered, simply a place to stay, facilities to wash and somewhere to cook and eat.
“Being a host means having a good heart, choosing to let someone into your home”
What is it like to host?
Father Ben Kerridge, priest at Holy Innocents Church Haringey, and Clergy Host, talks to Pattie Gercke, from Compassionate Communities about his experience of hosting three asylum seeking guests over the last few years
What is involved in becoming a host?
Eleanor Reardon, Housing Justice Hosting Co-ordinator, talks to us about what is involved in becoming a ‘host’ under the Clergy Hosting scheme.
More about the Clergy Hosting Scheme
The Housing Justice Hosting Project has been operating in London since 2015. As part of the unprecedented public response following the front-page pictures in 2015 of five-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned off the coast of Turkey, Housing Justice and other charities were inundated with phone calls and emails from people who had space in their home and wanted to help. Since then, our hosts have provided over 60,000 nights of hosting for people who would otherwise have had nowhere else to turn.
Jenna Roberts, Housing Justice Hosting Manager, talks to us about the Clergy Hosting scheme: it’s origins, how the scheme operates, and the benefits for both hosts and guests.
What people say
Guest Recently received Refugee status
The hosting project has made a really big difference to my life, more than I can say in words. I’ll never forget it.
Before this I was sleeping on the streets for six years. When I was finally able to stay in a house I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream.
I didn’t go to church when I was sleeping rough because I was self-conscious about my appearance and hygiene; I didn’t think the other people would want me there or to be near me. Now I go to church regularly, and I am proud that I am taking care of myself and feel much more confident. I feel like a different person.
Fr Ben Kerridge Current host, Holy Innocents Hornsey
I’m always reminded of when Jesus said: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food… naked and you clothed me’ (Mat 25:35-36).
Both my guests have previously been homeless and moved through the night shelter system. Enabling them to move into a proper house where they would have some independence, and autonomy, feels like what I should be doing with all that I have been given.
Guest Awaiting Home Office Decision
I think if someone is ready to give you a home, you know that person is a kind person. Here [with my host family] I learn English, culture. It’s nice. But once I have my own house, I will still come back to see them. Now I can say that I am lucky – if I wasn’t here, I’d be out on the streets.
It’s made a lot of difference to my life because now I don’t have to think about where I’m going to sleep each night. I don’t need to be hiding, waiting for people to come home so I can get in, having to ask unnecessary people for accommodation who would want “something” in return. I’m more relaxed now, not as stressed as I used to be; my blood pressure has gone down and I know it’s because of this. It’s been a big help and I’ve done a childcare course at college which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. It’s also meant I’ve met new people, people who just want to help and are being nice – I thought everyone was just horrible before, but these people [hosts] just want to help, they’re not looking for anything in return.
Richard Gough General Secretary, Diocese of London
To have safe and welcoming accommodation is a basic human need, which many refugees and asylum seekers do not have. I am excited that this creative approach may lead to more people having a place they can call home – whether for a few days or a few months. I hope that those who feel able to open their homes may be equally blessed through new friendships and perspectives.
Contacts and Resources for Clergy
For further information please contact Eleanor Reardon at Housing Justice on 07719 103632, e.reardon@HousingJustice.org.uk
To read more about the Housing Justice Hosting Project, click here
To discuss other ways you can support refugees and asylum-seekers, email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read our full FAQs here
There are relevant prayer and theological resources on the Church of England Toolkit for supporting Afghan Refugees
The resources below are for clergy hosts to share with their church, to explain what hosting is and why it is needed, and inspire others to get involved:
Apply to host
Click the button below to register your interest in becoming a host.
Someone will be in touch about the next steps and to answer any questions.