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.

We've loved hosting and every single one of our guests has brought something interesting and new into our lives."  Emma and Matt, ASSIST hosts. (Read their story here)

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.

Not necessarily. If you are renting, you would need to check your tenancy agreement and/or check with your landlord what your position would be regarding having a non-rent paying guest to stay, but in many cases it’s possible to host. The ASSIST office can give you advice on what to look out for in your tenancy agreement.

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. Some hosts have invited guests to take part in weekend activities, such as a country walk or  visit a museum, 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.

ASSIST’s male clients will be hosted by male or mixed households, and female clients will be hosted by female or mixed households, so who you might host will be affected by the make-up of your household.

New male clients being hosted over weekends will always be hosted by ‘key hosts’ who are very experienced. Only once a client has been successfully hosted by a key host twice will we refer them to other weekend hosts. We also liaise closely with our night shelter team who flag up any concerns they have about any individual's behaviour.

For long-term hosting, the guest would typically have already stayed at the ASSIST night shelter and with weekend hosts and be well-known to us. If that’s not the case, we will invite them to stay with key hosts before placing them with a newer host.

In the case of emergency hosting for women, we liaise with our casework teams to get to know a client before introducing them to a potential host.

 

Yes, a few of our hosts have children and young people living with them (have a look at the story of Marre and Emmanuel). Of course it’s up to you to decide what suits you and your family, but in our experience it can work well. We would advise taking the usual precautions about leaving your children unattended while hosting someone.

Yes! You’ll need to let us know, and we will check that this is OK with clients before matching you up with them, but it is not a barrier to hosting.

Weekend hosting

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 year, and many hosts host more regularly than this. When you are weekend hosting, you do not need to be at home or available all weekend, though you should be available at least on Saturday evening to meet your guest, usually in town.

Emergency or Long-term hosting

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.

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, backed up by paid staff. There will always be someone on hand to support you (in general as well as in emergency situations should they arise), and we try to preempt and mitigate problems through a vetting process, and by matching up clients with hosts that will be a good ‘fit’ for them, and vice versa.

Before your guest arrives, we will let you know about any relevant needs or circumstances, for example 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, they 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

 

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 usually start off as ‘weekend hosts’. (Because weekend hosting is for male guests, if everyone in your household is female, you can offer emergency rather than weekend hosting).

Emergency hosting typically involves female destitute asylum seekers being placed with hosts sometimes at quite short notice.

Long-term hosting usually entails more familiar clients staying with a host from 4 weeks to a maximum of 6 months. During this time, your guest would receive financial and case work support from ASSIST.

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

We will arrange for some members of our hosting support group to visit you at home at a time convenient for you to talk more about what hosting involves. If everyone is happy to proceed, we will ask you to complete a volunteer application and for at least one member of the household to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

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.