An organisation which offers support and refuge to torture survivors and people fleeing persecution is putting out an urgent appeal as the impact of the coronavirus threatens its members with potential homelessness.
Room to Heal put out the call this morning after one of its members was asked to leave before the weekend by their host household.
The crisis has seen the number of people willing or able to host others in their homes in the capital dwindle.
The charity is now looking for a connection for a housing solution over the next month for its member, who Room To Heal has said is female, has been involved with the charity since 2016, and has regularly been hosted.
Hosting scheme Room For Refugees (RFR) has confirmed that they currently have no hosts available in London, and called for those who are still able to safely open their doors as COVID-19 continues to spread to think about “changing your lifestyle to accommodate another person”.
A spokesperson for Room for Refugees said: “It’s been pronounced this week. Everyone’s behaving in the same way and waiting to see what happens, and that level of uncertainty means people aren’t considering taking on a new responsibility, or a member into their home.
“At the same time, people are changing their lives quite dramatically, moving back in with family or to different parts of the country, renting flats for self-isolation, AirBnBs being taken up for that purpose – there’s a lot of change going on, and I think hosting can fit within that.
“As with any big crisis, people are so uncertain they’re not sure if they want take on this new responsibility in their life. If a family member got in touch with you to ask to stay, what would you say? And can you extend that same level of humanity to someone that you don’t know who has not got anywhere else to go?”
According to RFR, many who have been found places to stay through their services are now being asked to leave for a variety of reasons; some hosts are medically vulnerable, others have family members or children coming back to stay with them, are leaving the city themselves during the outbreak, or simply feel having another person in the household is not safe.
The hosting service is still up and running, adapting its procedures to fit with the crisis while drawing down face-to-face appointments, but Room To Heal remains concerned at the severe impact the crisis could have on its members, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other underlying heath conditions.
The charity, which is based in Islington but assists and advocates for people from across London, as well as offering a therapeutic community for its members, helps many who live on £5/day, have no internet connection and are left unable to connect with others during the crisis , or live in “extremely difficult” conditions in shared housing or rooms.
A spokesperson for Room to Heal added: “A lot of our members have health appointments and are very concerned about not being able to go. Social isolation is a huge issue to recover from trauma, so to be forced into isolation can be very detrimental.”
Room To Heal has set up an emergency appeal for its community members, which you can donate to here.
You can find more information about becoming a host with Room For Refugees here.