Holly and Jane, TWMF campaigner

Right to Remain’s These Walls Must Fall Organiser, Maggy Moyo, caught up recently with Holly Palmer, Placement Coordinator with Refugees at Home. They discussed their work in Manchester and beyond, the growing homelessness crisis, campaigning for change, and the vital support provided to a These Walls Must Fall campaigner over Christmas.

Maggy and Holly were both involved in the Manchester launch of the Together With Refugees campaign, “FAIR BEGINS HERE“. This national coalition shares a belief in showing compassion to people fleeing war, persecution, and violence and advocates for a fair system, calling for an end to the hostility and divisiveness that has marked recent years.

At this all-day event, various local organisations came together, different hostile environment challenges and campaigning topics were covered, with homelessness and destitution emerging as primary concerns. We explored collaborative strategies to complement each other’s work and champion justice for those seeking sanctuary. The commitment from each participant, offering their expertise to contribute to the change we wish to see, was truly inspiring.

During the sessions, the conversation delved into the impactful work organisations are doing in the community, addressing the challenges posed by the hostile environment for asylum seekers and refugees.

We discussed the importance of mutual support and collaboration to bring about positive change. Holly passionately shared Refugees at Home mission, emphasising their efforts to aid homeless refugees by connecting them with families willing to provide temporary accommodation. This is especially crucial for newly granted refugees navigating the housing system or private renting.

Due to the Home Office Policy on seven day eviction notices for those with newly granted refugee status, last year saw a monumental spike in people presenting themselves as homeless to their local authority. Refugees at Home has continued to be a vital support network to those finding themselves in this situation. They are always looking for more hosts who are willing to offer up a free room to the people who need it most.

Refugees at Home – looking for hosts

Refugees at Home connects people with a spare room to refugees and asylum seekers in need of somewhere to stay. We recruit and support volunteer hosts who are willing to offer a temporary home and a helping hand.  Our role is to carefully match each guest and host, to assess and prepare them ready for hosting, to advise on hosting arrangements and accommodation, and to provide ongoing support to hosts throughout each stay.

Each placement is different, and the length of hosting can vary from a few nights to several months and anything in between. Hosting is entirely altruistic, and we do not pay hosts for giving up their spare rooms.  

We are currently looking for new hosts with a spare room or two, in cities and towns that are well connected and have good public transport systems. This enables our guests to travel to college, school, support groups or jobs, and retain their independence.

At Right to Remain, we’ve been addressing the effects of the Illegal Migration Act (IMA), with a series of community events to help groups and organisations to learn about and prepare for the impact of the act. Homelessness and destitution have been priority issues of concern raised at every IMA event we have run.

Holly’s account of Refugees at Home’s work resonated, as one of our These Walls Must Fall campaigning members, recently granted refugee status, found herself without a place to stay during the festive season. Holly’s swift response and welfare checks ensured our member’s well-being and, ultimately, led to the matching with a caring family through Refugees at Home.

Our member, referred to as Lady X, experienced a warm Christmas with the newfound family, thanks to Refugees at Home’s efforts. While Refugees at Home provides temporary accommodation, we recognize the need for a more permanent solution as Lady X embarks on building her life, job hunting, and striving for independence.

She said about Refugees at Home –

I really thank Refugees at home for the support that they gave me when I became homeless. When I got granted my refugee status, I was evicted from the asylum support housing and became homeless. I approached my local council and they did not help me. I got stuck because I couldn’t find anyone to accommodate me.

I was referred to Refugees at Home and this is when I heard someone who gave me hope in a hard situation. Holly who works there called me and assured me that she will look for a volunteer who will host me which she later did.

On 24th December, I managed to move to a caring family in Manchester. They were so welcoming, loving and this really gave me hope as a refugee to be welcomed and accommodated in a native’s home. I am having a good time whilst living with them as they are kind, loving, supportive to me and I really feel at home.

Collaboratively, we believe that every small effort contributes to significant changes in the community, restoring humanity one step at a time. Our encounter with Holly and the work of Refugees At Home serve as a powerful reminder of the impact we can make when we come together in solidarity.

Our Lady X’s experience truly highlights the radical solidarity and support we are all dreaming of. It has been a long overwhelming journey for her, She is thankful to Lesbian Immigration Support Group for emotional support and to Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit for legal help – particularly Isobel whom she says was phenomenal, worked tirelessly on her case until she was granted her refugee status. And to Refugees at Home who in the meantime have provided her a roof over her head. She is now hoping that in due course another organisation will be able to offer her a more permanent place whilst she is job hunting to secure private accommodation.