Listen: Hope 103.2’s Ben McEachen chats with Enough Room founder Sam Terry
There are many Australians who see the plight of asylum seekers and want to help, but don’t know how—and signing a petition doesn’t seem to make much of a dent.
But if you’ve got a spare room in your house, or a granny flat, you can now sign up to make a tangible difference in the life of an asylum seeker or refugee, thanks to Enough Room.
The Sydney-based organisation, currently in its pilot stages, is establishing itself as something of an ‘Air B’n’B’ for asylum seekers, linking up host families with people in need of a temporary home.
According to Enough Room, in Australia there are currently around 28,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas—and around 7 million spare bedrooms. Enough Room brings those two groups together.
Whether you’re a home owner or a renter, you can offer your spare room for a minimum of one month, to help a refugee or asylum seeker as they get themselves established in their new homeland. You can also specify whether you would like to host an individual, a couple or a family.
Forming A Friendship With an Asylum Seeker
Enough Room founder Sam Terry told Hope 103.2’s Ben McEachen that hosts can establish the boundaries around how much involvement they would like to have in the life of the asylum seeker they host. However the ultimate aim is that hosting involves forming a friendship.
“We really want people to be involved in asylum seekers’ lives as well, and help them get established,” he said.
“You can set up how flexible you want the boundaries in that relationship to be and some of them can be pretty intense, especially if somebody’s experienced a high degree of trauma, as a lot of them have, or they’re got a lot of anxiety as they wait for their visa to be processed.
In Australia there are currently around 28,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas—and around 7 million spare bedrooms.
“But really, we want people to be able to love the asylum seekers that are staying with them, help get them established, take them to the shops if they need to, help find a job, help them find more accommodation, teach them some of the language and some of the idiom that Australians have. We want it to be a very relational thing.”
The friendship a host forms will help an asylum seeker or refugee to build relationships within their community, and empower them to build a ‘sustainable’, connected life in Australia.
However people who can only offer their spare room, but not much of their time, are also welcome to apply.
Partnering With Asylum Seeker & Refugee Agencies
The Enough Room team then pass their applicants’ details on to partner agencies working with asylum seekers, who match hosts with clients.
“They make sure the asylum seekers, who are pretty vulnerable people, are looked after,” Sam said.
While many people have expressed interest in hosting one of the 12000 Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Australia, Enough Room says the government is currently working with contracted organisations to provide housing and assistance for them. So Enough Room is instead focussed on providing support to other asylum seekers and refugees, who are not eligible for that assistance.
To register your interest in being a host, go to EnoughRoom.org.