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Being a volunteer host – Anja’s story

The Praxis Community Project’s ‘Temporary Homes’ scheme has been shortlisted for the prestigious Andy Ludlow Awards 2014.  This scheme works with people with no recourse to public funds and views immigration status as a support need to be worked with, not a barrier.  One element of the scheme is volunteer hosting, where individuals volunteer to take a migrant into their home.  Anja Nyberg and her wife Kris have been hosts for a year. 

“We got involved because like many people we wanted to help, but had limited time.  But we did have space!  Our three bedroom house was a great resource and we thought it could be used to help migrants.

This group is perhaps the most vulnerable.  They often have absolutely no way of getting funds or any financial help, and suffer discrimination.  They are very misunderstood.  Being a volunteer host and inviting people into your home not only gives them a temporary home but also shows that there are people who welcome and value them.

Praxis offer guidance and support throughout the stay and we know that we can go to them with any problems or concerns.

The three women we have hosted have been very different; one really became part of the family whereas another wanted to remain more independent and use their own networks, for example. You need to be flexible.

In my experience, the really fantastic thing about the hosting aspect of Temporary Homes is that it provides opportunities for positive encounters between hosts and guests. Kris and I are lesbians living in a civil partnership, and I expect this is something that many migrants won’t have encountered before, just as there are many aspects of guests’ backgrounds and lives that are surprising and unfamiliar to us. In fact, being a volunteer host has taught me a lot about the diversity amongst “migrants” as a group, and has challenged pre-conceived opinions that I had. It gives a platform for people to really connect with each other, which I believe is incredibly important, and has real relevance to the discussion about “integration” It has been very rewarding for us and we will happily carry on hosting. It’s been a great way to make a difference, but has also really enriched our day-to-day lives.”

For more information about the Praxis Project click here

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