A CHARITY working with refugees and asylum seekers wants to encourage families in East Lancashire to open their homes for free to provide temporary accommodation.

Refugees at Home is a UK based charity that aims to find free rooms for refugees and asylums seekers in need of emergency accommodation.

The charity has helped more than 800 people from places like Syria, Iran and Sudan to date.

Now, they wish to encourage more families in places like Blackburn with Darwen to sign up to the scheme and provide a refugee in need with a place to stay.

Once signed up, host families are matched with a refugee, who are usually referred by The Refugee Council or The Red Cross, while a home assessment is carried out to ensure the safety of both parties.

Sara Nathan, co-founder and trustee and host at Refugees at Home said: “Hosting with Refugees at Home is crucial for many guests, but it is also life-enhancing for us hosts.

“My husband and I have hosted 19 people over the last three years – from a night or two up to nine months and mostly for about three months at a time.

“We have met people we would never have come across, learnt about parts of the world we knew nothing of and tried some amazing food.

“It has been a really great experience and given us new friends and new connections, I’d heartily recommend it.”

Many people may have stereotypical views of refugees and asylum seekers, and Refugees at Home aim to change these views.

When arriving in the country, asylums seekers have to wait for the Home Office to decide whether it believes they are fleeing war or a well-founded fear of persecution.

They cannot work or claim benefits during this time, and if their application is refused, they have nowhere to go as they appeal or re-apply.

When the Home Office grants refugee status, the refugee can then get a job and is eligible for benefits.

But. they will be evicted from the accommodation for asylum-seekers 28 days later, even if they do not have anywhere to go.

This is why Refugees at Home wants to help accommodate them by asking families for assistance.

To find out more about how it works, visit www.refugeesathome.org/