“Tonight, you’re going to be safe.” – Emergency Hosting Update
This winter, in partnership with the British Red Cross, The Boaz Trust has been exploring for the first time how best to offer emergency accommodation for women.
Initially, we piloted a women’s night shelter and we were able to safely accommodate 10 women through this. However, it became apparent that we could meet the needs of our clients in a more appropriate way. So, in December we transitioned from the women’s night shelter to an emergency hosting scheme.
Recently, we caught up with Debs, who is leading this work, and Esme, one of our client support workers, to hear about how the emergency hosting scheme is progressing.
What is the emergency hosting scheme?
Debs: The emergency hosting scheme offers a fixed, stable environment in a home during both day and night. We’re really thankful that both some of our existing hosts are involved, alongside some of our wonderful volunteers from the women’s night shelter, who are now hosts.
Who is it helping?
Debs: In the first few weeks of running the emergency hosting scheme we’ve had clients who have faced street homelessness, sexual exploitation, trafficking and domestic violence. We’re really glad to be able to provide this service; it means that our clients don’t have to compromise themselves in order to have somewhere safe to stay.
Esme: One of those who we have been working with had been street homeless for days, sleeping under a bridge somewhere in Manchester. She had tried to access other support services, but they were unable to help her, so she walked across the city in the cold and wet to find us. She had one suitcase with her that was soaked, she hadn’t eaten for days, and she was exhausted.
What kind of support were you able to offer in that situation?
Esme: The first thing I did was make her a hot drink, sat down with her, asked her what her name was, introduced myself and Boaz, and told her what we do. I made it really clear that she was welcome, and made it really clear to her that she didn’t need to say or do anything, she could just sit in silence if that’s what she needed.
We were able to give her toiletries, a towel and time to use those things. After a while, she felt able to eat, so I made her some food and she was able to sit and eat in peace. We then started contacting hosts to see who was available to host her. During that time, she slept and got some rest.
We managed to find a host for her; she stayed with them for a week. Subsequently, we’ve been able to move her into one of our houses.
Why does hosting make a difference? How can people get involved?
Esme: It’s an amazing feeling to know that we are able to say to women: “tonight, you’re going to be safe”. The whole experience made me realise the difference hosting can make; without it, she didn’t know where she would go. Everywhere she tried, she didn’t fit into their category or they weren’t able to offer her support. Hosting offers dignity and safety for people who have had everything taken away from them.
Debs: It’s amazing how just 24 hours of safety can give someone capacity to function. Having this safe foundation offers our clients the opportunity to take control of their lives. Hosting is a great opportunity to offer shelter and hospitality in a simple way, and to allow someone to benefit from your home even if it’s just for a few days. You don’t need a massive house! All kinds of people host; different people who offer what they have. Our clients are so appreciative of the welcome and kindness they receive. Can you help?
Boaz began life as a hosting organisation, and over the years we have hosted hundreds of men and women with individuals and families across Manchester.
We are currently looking to recruit new hosts, who would be willing to host men and / or women for anything from a couple of nights at short notice, up to longer term placements of over a month.
If this is something you might be interested in learning more about, please do visit the hosting page on our website which has more information and a couple of useful documents. If you decide you would like to explore this further with us, please do get in touch directly.