“Hosting not only changes the lives of the guests, but it changes your own life too, for the better!”
The Salesian Sisters have been hosting through Housing Justice since 2017. We interviewed the Sisters and their hosting guests.
What is hosting?
Hosting is simply where someone offers a private room and access to shared facilities in their own home to a person or persons in need, free of charge. As well as providing a safe, temporary home, hosting can give people in the asylum and immigration system vital stability that enables them to access the support they need to move forward with their life. It can be a rewarding experience for both guests and hosts; an opportunity to learn about different backgrounds, cultures and world-views, a chance to make new friends and connections, and to help with integration for people who are new to the UK.
The Hosts- The Salesian Sisters
What led you to become hosts?
We became hosts as a response to the terrible Immigration Crisis that we witnessed around the world in 2016. It was by chance that we stumbled across Housing Justice, and they educated us to the plight of the many displaced homeless asylum seekers already in our country. We had no idea. So, we took time to find out more and discern if this was something we could support and off course it was! We are in our fifth year of hosting, and the project is going from strength to strength.
This was ‘unfamiliar territory’ for us as Salesian Sisters and so to begin with we had many questions, reservations, and some sisters in the province had fears around setting up such a new project. However, those who were instrumental in setting up the project were very clear, well prepared and informed. Working in partnership with Housing Justice gave us confidence and a security we otherwise would not have had.
Could you say a little about what hosting has been like for you personally?
Having the privilege of living alongside these wonderful women is very humbling. They are incredible. I see their struggle, feel their pain, but what speaks most to me is their faith and trust in God in this very difficult situation in which they find themselves.
They bring ‘new life’ into the heart of this little community and they are at the centre; they are part of our family.
I find living with the ladies on a day-to-day basis, is just like living alongside any other person. We all have our joys and sorrows, our ups and downs but they have opened themselves up, shared their stories and allowed me to journey with them at this time in their lives and it is such a blessing. I am challenged by their stories and encouraged at their ability to ‘wait’ and ‘wait’ and ‘wait’ for their ‘right to remain!’ I am not sure I would manage it as well as they do if I was walking in their shoes!
The ladies presence reminds me daily of the thousands of poor, homeless, asylum seekers and refugees destitute in our country. It challenges me to be a voice for them and be proactive in sharing the ‘Good News’ they bring in our society and seek to break down barriers of prejudice, and discrimination, which isolates and rejects them. It is important to help educate people and change negative attitudes and beliefs about asylum seekers as they isolate and reject them in their greatest time of need.
Is there anything you’ve particularly learnt or enjoyed?
I have enjoyed watching the ladies grow in confidence and get more involved in how we live together; we spend time playing cards, we have our ‘ladies’ night in’ once a month, we have days out together, etc. This has helped us bond together and build relationships.
I love how we laugh together.
I have learnt how unjust and abusive our systems are against asylum seekers, not by reading it in papers or on the internet, but through listening to the tragic stories of our ladies and the suffering they endure as they wait for the right to remain. It is criminal the way they are treated and it’s important to be an advocate on their behalf in any way I can.
Photo credits: Photos taken by Housing Justice Guest.
We interviewed some of the guests on their experience of being hosted by the Salesian Sisters.
What difference has the support provided through hosting made to you?
A great difference indeed. A new life, a new beginning.
Independence to manage my finances, learn how to budget, work with others more freely.
I found freedom being with the sisters. It helped me to feel safe and at peace.
What are you hoping for from the future?
To put back into the community what was given to me. To have my own place and begin my new life. I can’t wait to receive my right to remain.
What words would friends or family use to describe you?
Tell me something that someone has said or done recently that has made a positive difference.
- Someone removed my clothes from the line when it was raining, and I wasn’t around.
- My IT teacher told me I am doing well.
- One of my housemates has received her right to remain, this gives me hope.
- The sisters help me with all my appointments, they came with me and made sure all went well.
What is your most difficult challenge right now?
Waiting for my right to remain to be granted.
Have you learned anything new about God or other people during your time in the UK?
Trusting God more. Without God you cannot do a lot anywhere.
To find out more about the clergy hosting scheme, run in partnership between the Diocese of London and the charity Housing Justice, click HERE or click here to register your interest in being a host