Hello again… its been a month since we launched HostNation and a lot has happened. The word is spreading thanks in part to social media and our facebook page and twitter feed @HostNationUK – https://www.facebook.com/HostNationUK/ and https://twitter.com/search?q=hostnationuk&src=typd. We’ve been given opportunities to speak about HostNation and refugee befriending at various events including the wonderful Welcome Cinema http://www.welcomecinema.org/ which meets once a month at Amnesty International. The idea is for the British public, asylum seekers and refugees to come together over a shared passion for food and film. The food is provided by Welcome Kitchen, a project started by refugee women in 2016. On their website they write about friendship: Integration can be a difficult process. While newcomers to this city are often marginalised socially, Londoners are more likely to read about refugees than engage with the people behind the stories. Welcome Cinema is a move to address this uncertainty, lending a hand to step over the divide. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves! Since HostNation seems such a good fit, they’ve invited us to speak and to encourage their audiences to sign up.
Talking of friendship and the people behind the headlines, there was an interesting piece in the paper about friendship the other day. Apparently Aristotle proclaimed that ‘a friend is a second self’ and went on to say ‘that consciousness of a friend’s existence makes us more fully conscious of our own’. Past befrienders have said that the experience is immensely rewarding and that the relationship has revealed as much about themselves as the other person. Friendship is about individuals, seeing people for who they are rather than what they represent. Making a difference to one person’s life through personal and specific acts of friendship is a relationship based on individuality. William Blake wrote: ‘He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars, whereas the general good is the plea of the scoundrel’. Far be it for HostNation to sit in judgment on anyone’s personal morality but Blake has a point, it is how we behave towards each other that matters the most.
In our first month, 50 people have signed up as befrienders! Most of you live in Greater London and we very much hope to be matching you with socially isolated asylum seekers and refugees later in the year, but those of you who live further afield are just as welcome – as moral support for now, whilst we pilot the scheme in Greater London – and as future befrienders when we roll out nationally. Please keep registering! Meanwhile we will start to check everyone’s references and, over the next couple of months, we will call those of you who have signed up to discuss the befriending role. We are also in discussions with Freshfield’s pro bono legal team about making sure your personal data is as safe as possible and we’ve been accepted by Prism the Gift Fund to have charitable status under their auspices and they will provide us with full governance and accountability. We hope to start fund raising soon and will set up a crowdfunding page and a page on who we are – the team and their backgrounds – will appear on the site shortly. So watch this space!