Sanctuary Hosting provides shelter for destitute refugees and asylum seekers
Sanctuary Hosting helps asylum seekers and refugees, as well as people fleeing domestic abuse and human trafficking / modern day slavery. They are all at risk of falling between the gaps of the social security net and becoming homeless due to restrictions on public funds. When someone claims asylum they may wait for a long time to be offered Home Office accommodation and if their claim for refugee status is granted, they get just 28 days to move out again. Vulnerable migrants making a human rights claim to remain in the UK have no access to local authority support, nor can they work, leaving many destitute for months if not years while they wait for a decision. During the first six months of the COVID pandemic, the ‘Everyone In’ initiative helped ensure that anyone, regardless of their immigration status, had a roof over their head, a measure that helped protect individuals and ensure public safety. Local authorities are not planning to run such a scheme again as we experience a second wave. We are expecting the demand for our service to increase once more as we move into winter. As the number of infections rises once more, it is essential for everyone’s safety that no one ends up sleeping on the streets.
We match people at risk of homelessness with hosts who have a spare bed
Sanctuary Hosting is a platform for community action to prevent homelessness amongst refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants. We match people with generous hosts who can offer a spare bed in their home, rent free, for an agreed length of time. Providing this shelter allows guests to feel safe and welcome, and then means they can get legal advice, see a doctor or meet a counsellor. It is often the first time guests have stepped into a British home and it can lead to many heart-warming outcomes, shared learning, great food and lasting friendships!
In five years we have helped 116 people from 27 countries
Since our beginnings as a grassroots movement back in September 2015, we have found shelter for 116 people from 27 different countries. Engaging with over 80 households across the Thames Valley, we have made available over 22,000 nights of accommodation. During spring 2020 lockdown, Sanctuary Hosting was the only hosting charity that remained open in the UK, taking in six new guests from March to August 2020, three of whom were women fleeing domestic abuse. Around 70% of our guests move on successfully to more permanent accommodation.
One guest told us, ‘Sanctuary means a golden word for me, as Sanctuary host has been really helpful to me, especially during this pandemic, doing superb job.’
A host summed up their feelings like this: ‘Why host? Humanity – enough said.’
We need to raise £30,000 to continue our work
Our hosts provide accommodation for free but in order to support them and ensure the service runs safely, we need to raise at least £30,000 to help pay our staff and provide our guests with money for essential travel, food and toiletries. It costs around £20 a night to host a guest. That’s £140 to keep someone safe for a week. For £600 a guest can be hosted for a month.
Hear our Service Manager, Sarah, talking back in 2017 when we were awarded funding
Based in Oxford, we work across the Thames Valley
From our beginnings as a simple idea that offered people a way to help others in need, we are now a registered charity led by a volunteer board, with a handful of part-time staff supported by a network of volunteers in the community. Based in Oxford, we have expanded to cover the whole of the Thames Valley including Milton Keynes, Reading and Marlow. Amongst our trustees and staff are people with lived experience of the asylum process. Hosting is a form of defiance. By refusing to accept destitution and homelessness in a country with the wealth and means to prevent it, we are pushing back against the hostile environment.
Without your help we cannot carry on!
This year, more than ever, our service is critical to keeping people off the streets and safe, but one of our main funding streams is coming to an end and our future is at risk. We have always said that we want to be funded by the community for the community. Please join us now in helping to prevent homelessness amongst refugees and asylum seekers.
Sanctuary Hosting staff team having a rare in person meeting in summer 2020