Become an ASSIST host

Your spare room could change someone’s life!

We’re currently supporting around 100 asylum seekers in Sheffield who aren’t entitled to government funded support or accommodation, and aren’t allowed to work because their asylum claim has been turned down.

Our community of ASSIST hosts help keep these people safe and off the streets. In offering a spare room, our hosts make an instrumental difference to asylum seekers’ lives, offering friendship and support to people who truly need it.

How it works

We are always looking for ASSIST hosts who can offer some space to our clients for a weekend, a few weeks or a few months. We’ll pair you with a dedicated member of the ASSIST hosting support team, who will be there for advice and help if and when you need it.

As well as ongoing support, we offer:

  • A thorough induction into your new volunteer role
  • Access to training opportunities, for example ASSIST’s ‘Asylum the Basics’ training
  • A small financial contribution to help cover expenses, if needed
  • Opportunities to meet other hosts at social events held by ASSIST

To find out more about hosting, please contact us.

FAQs

Yes. The majority of asylum seekers we support use services such as solicitors, GPs, hospitals and food banks in Sheffield, and many have links to faith or other community groups in the city, which is why it isn’t practical to house them outside of Sheffield.

If you are interested in becoming a host, but are unsure whether your location would be suitable, please get in touch with us to discuss this further.

We wholeheartedly encourage you to organise how you host asylum seekers in a way that feels comfortable to you. The minimum we would expect from you is:

  • A bed in a separate room
  • Access to washing facilities
  • Access to food or cooking facilities (in the case of emergency or long-term hosts)

Almost all of our clients value the hospitality shown by their hosts, enjoy being part of everyday life and experiencing some privacy. However, you are not expected to entertain your guest. Sometimes hosts offer guests to take part in weekend activities, such as family outings, but this is entirely optional.

We will only refer ASSIST clients to stay with you once we have satisfied ourselves to the best of our ability, that they would be suitable to be hosted by you.

We liaise closely with our night-shelter team who will flag up any concerns about any individual's behaviour.

Clients who have not been hosted before will always be hosted by ‘key hosts’ who are extremely experienced. Only once a client has been successfully hosted by a key host twice, will we refer him/her to any of the other weekend hosts.

In the case of long-term hosting, the guest would typically have previously stayed at the ASSIST night-shelter and will be well-known to us.

No. Refused asylum-seekers are legally present in the country. It is the Home Office’s responsibility to remove those who they believe should not remain in the UK.

It is only an offence to knowingly harbour someone who is on the run having committed a crime, or having escaped from a detention centre. 

We have a dedicated team of volunteers whose task it is to recruit and support our hosts. They will let you know if your guest has any special dietary requirements or if they don’t speak English well.

Long-term and emergency hosts will be supported by a dedicated member of the ASSIST accommodation team. Your ‘host buddy’ will remain in regular contact with you before, during and after each hosting placement, to make sure that you have got all the information and support you need. If at any point before, during or after hosting you have any questions or concerns, he/she will be on the other end of a phone line for you.

We also organise at least two host social evenings each year, which have proven to be useful occasions to talk to other hosts, learn from each others’ experience and find out what is going on in ASSIST generally.

In addition to an initial induction for new hosts and ongoing support, hosts also have access to training opportunities for all ASSIST volunteers. Our ‘Asylum the Basics’ session teaches you all you need to know about the UK’s asylum system. Other recent training courses have included First Aid in Mental Health and Managing Difficult Situations.

You will also receive a small financial contribution towards the costs you have incurred for hosting an ASSIST client.

Weekend-host

Ideally we’d like you to be available at least once every 6 weeks, however we completely appreciate that your availability will change over the years.

Emergency or Long-term

If you sign-up, we will send out emails to let you know when a place is needed, and check-in to see if there are any changes in your availability.

We have several different hosting options available if you have a spare room:

Weekend hosting is primarily used to bridge the gap between weekdays when the night shelter is open and free to use. New hosts will almost always start off as ‘weekend-hosts’.

Emergency hosting typically involves female destitute asylum seekers being placed in host families due to their initial reservation in approaching the charity and using the night shelter.

Long-term hosting usually entails more familiar clients staying with a host from 4 weeks to a maximum of 6 months. During this time, the client would receive support from ASSIST in proceeding with their asylum case.

If you are interested in becoming an ASSIST host, please get in touch: accommodate@assistsheffield.org.uk

A few words from some ASSIST hosts

We have been hosting with ASSIST for two years. We started as weekend hosts and then moved on to medium and long term.

We started hosting not just because we wanted to provide shelter and security for people who had been left with nothing.

We host because we strongly feel no human being should be without a home and sleeping on the streets.