Bristol’s mayor urges residents to give up spare rooms for asylum seekers so that they don’t end up living on the streets
- Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees backed scheme which lets volunteers host refugees in their spare bedrooms
- Mr Rees said Bristol should be a place ‘where everyone feels welcome and safe’
- City council housed asylum seekers during Covid but arrangement ends soon
- Bristol Hospitality Network asked 20 volunteers to offer room for three months or more
The mayor of Bristol has urged residents to take asylum seekers into their homes so that they don’t end up living on the streets during a housing crisis.
Mayor Marvin Rees gave his support to a scheme which lets volunteers host refugees in their spare bedrooms – adding that the city should be a place ‘where everyone feels welcome and safe’.
The city council has provided housing for a number of asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic, covering the cost, but the arrangement is shortly due to finish.
It comes as charity Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) has asked for 20 volunteers who could offer a room for three months or more.
The mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees (pictured), has urged residents to take asylum seekers into their homes so that they don’t end up living on the streets during a housing crisis
The city council has provided housing for a number of asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic, covering the cost, but the arrangement is shortly due to finish. It comes as charity Bristol Hospitality Network has asked for 20 volunteers who could offer a room for three months or more
BHN, which provides accommodation and board to destitute asylum seekers, has helped to host more than 100 people since 2009 – giving the safety and security to rebuild their lives in the UK.
Many of those they help come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.
What is involved in becoming a host for an asylum seeker?
Bristol Hospitality Network states on its website:
‘It really is as simple as providing a spare room. Duration is often a minimum of three months.
‘We work hard to get to know the hosts and their requirements first in order to place appropriate members in their home. Some hosts have a spare room with separate toilet, kitchenette and entrance.
‘Others have a room and are happy to either let the member live independently or provide community and relationship by connecting with the member over food and socialising.
‘We can discuss your ideal hosting situation in order to facilitate a successful placement, and will provide support regarding social distancing during the lockdown.’
‘This isn’t just a Bristol problem and every city will be taking its own approach to dealing with it,’ said director Lizzie Briggs, according to the BBC.
She added: ‘Asylum seekers are evicted from Home Office accommodation 21 days after being refused, becoming homeless in that same city.
‘So wherever there is Home Office accommodation for asylum seekers, there are refused asylum seekers made destitute, sofa-surfing or street homeless.’
Asylum seekers whose claim has been denied are forbidden from working and are not allowed to claim benefits
Nationwide schemes to host asylum seekers in private homes have been operating for some years.
BHN volunteers Sarah and Peter hosted a male asylum seeker in his twenties from Iraq for two years.
Peter told the charity: ‘I felt really proud that we were able to offer him something that made an immense difference to his life.
‘And I hope that if I was in that amount of need, someone would reach a hand out to me.’
In a bulletin from councils in April, it was claimed local authorities could be left to front the costs of providing homeless people with no access to benefits somewhere safe to sleep.
It read: ‘A consequence of the Home Office not relaxing restrictions on access to benefits during the pandemic for people subject to the no recourse to public funds condition is that local government is likely to incur additional costs when accommodation and financial support needs to be provided.’
A Government spokesman told MailOnline in April: ‘Over 90 per cent of those known to be living on the streets at the start of the crisis have been offered safe accommodation – ensuring some of the most vulnerable people can stay safe during the pandemic.
‘This is a remarkable achievement is the result of a collaborative effort across Government and with local authorities, health providers and charities.
‘This is backed by £3.2billion of Government funding for local authorities as part of the wider government response to the coronavirus pandemic.’
Nationwide schemes to host asylum seekers in private homes have been operating for some years. (Above, a migrant arrives at Dover harbour on a Border Force boat today)