EM is a guest of our At Home hosting scheme. EM has been supported by JRS for 7 months during which he has been hosted by a volunteer family.
Being hosted is like being offered a 5-course meal with no strings or conditions attached. What the guest needs to do is just to turn up for dinner. I use this analogy because as a migrant refugee who is seeking asylum in the UK I have no recourse to public funds or conventional housing. The hosting arrangement has alleviated my homelessness situation by facilitating an accommodation that seems to be working and meeting my immediate basic needs for housing as I sort out my immigration application and issues. Without this I would have nowhere else to go.
In my case I’m hosted in North West London with the family of Christopher and Paola. I remember when I first arrived on the 1st of November 2018, the welcome party of Chris, Paola, Tommy and king David were ready and anxiously waiting to welcome me. I was accompanied by the JRS representative called Naomi, she is the At Home Coordinator that facilitated my current hosting arrangement. For me this is practical help and support, I have been with the family for up to 2 months now and I already feel so welcomed and at home after having gone through a difficult period of homelessness, rough sleeping that comes with a lot of bullying, intimidation and prejudice. But now all that is in the past as my wellbeing and mental health seems to be getting better ever since I moved in to Chris and Paola’s household. This has made such a huge difference.
Due to these factors, it has come as a relief and as a process of recovery and regeneration which brings about improvement. I can also say I have a family to relate to and share issues of concern, this include family group support meetings, group sessions and social trips outside, for example community church meetings or dining out. And all these are skills in the simple aspects of daily living and also in me re-understanding how it will enable me in taking the first steps in rebuilding my life after a difficult time with my mental health and well-being.
So, the central theme for me in the hosting arrangement is how it transforms the life of the guest. I would say it is ‘saving vulnerable lives’. Like I consider myself as being in a vulnerable situation. This transformation is based on factors like how ready is the guest and the host to cope up with dynamics of the host – guest relationship? Issues like language and communication has not been a barrier between me, the guest, and the host family comprising of Mr Christopher, Paola and their 2 great boys Thomas and David, this excludes other family friends and relatives that would make occasional visits for short or long-term stay. So, my integration has been easy in relations to how I have to communicate and culturally as well as understanding the reciprocity of mutual respect.
I find hosting very insightful for me. First as a guest I’m living it by experience and here I’m writing this experience and be a witness that is giving an account of how a guest can relate with the host and show how humanity, love and compassion can unite people irrespective of who they are or where they come from.
At the end of the day hosting can and seems to be doing things which have an effect on the guest’s life. These are connected in trying to deal with temporary, permanent and secure accommodation for a vulnerable asylum seekers like me, refugees and migrants with no recourse to public funds. Not to mention past traumatic painful events that many asylum seekers like me have gone through and find it hard to repeatedly talk and say something on it, when the authorities are already aware of. This is one thing that led to quite a severe feeling of depression, unhappiness, and disappointment – that I encountered. I must confess it is extremely difficult and hard to detect what depression really is. However lack of a secure accommodating environment with a steady roof over my head has been one of the main contributing factors of my poor mental health condition that is changing.
After having lived and enjoyed living as a guest with Christopher and Paolo, I only wish the length of stay was much longer.
Written by EM
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