A Hosting Experience

Jenny tells her story of hosting and how it led to starting a charity in Camden that helps welcome Ukrainians. She also shares the challenges she faced and valuable advice for future hosts.

Jenny's Story

Jenny and her husband initially wanted to get involved in supporting refugees when the Syrian war broke out and open their home to Syrian refugees but it wasn’t the right time due to family commitments.  When the war in Ukraine started, and Homes for Ukraine emerged, they had the space in their home and felt it was the right time to get involved. They were linked to a mother and her two daughters, aged 6 and 16, who they hosted for 13 months.
Jenny’s hosting experience led her to establish an extensive network of hosts in North West London and start up a grassroots organisation, Familes4Peace, which became a community centre that welcomes recently displaced individuals and families from Ukraine. Their centre serves as a meeting hub where families can receive information and advice to help them re-start their lives and ultimately empower them to re-gain their independence.

“I would absolutely tell people to do it. We would do it again in a heartbeat. It was an incredibly poignant experience and everyone in their family gained so much. They learned about themselves, about European history, and benefited from learning and living with someone from a different part of the world. You’re doing a good thing and you are potentially saving someone’s life. It can be stressful and hard work but, overall, the majority of the hosts we have dealt with have had a great experience and would do it again.”

Challenges of Hosting

Jenny said housing is definitely the biggest challenge. People will eventually find places, but you must have tenacity, be flexible and look a lot, especially for those that live in nice parts of London. She explained that the housing challenges arise because the market is extremely competitive and it can be difficult locating affordable housing if you are on benefits and don’t have a guarantor or several months rent to pay up front.

It takes tremendous tenacity and hard work for most guests to find independent housing but most do. Start early. Be flexible. Look at many, many places!

Jenny has also seen challenges with trauma and tremendous anxiety among guests. She feels there is a shortage of health support.

Advice for Future Hosts

  • Keep in touch with the council, focus on forming that relationship, be persistent!
  • Hosts should access trauma training
  • Councils should be preparing people with safeguarding training
  • Having a list of house rules up front and setting boundaries is very useful. Jenny mentioned things you might not think of can become an issue, even something silly like what bins to use!
  • Learn to use Google translate effectively
  • Cultural training would be useful for hosts 
  • Training for Ukrainians on nuances in UK culture


Familes4Peace set themselves up to help welcome Ukrainians. It all started with a WhatsApp group of people who wanted to host. It was very grassroots. Their aim was to give Ukrainians a chance to know each other, feel welcome, and to help them network with each other.  

Today, they do signposting and have quite a few WhatsApp groups that they moderate. Jenny keeps in touch with her network of hosts and if they have a specific question, they know they can reach out.  

They also have a newsletter they share with hosts. They are currently working on creating a commemorative quilt and inviting hosts and guests to come and make a square for the quilt as a nice way to record their experience and have something tangible to remember it with.  

Their community hub hosts talks and speakers. The council will come and talk about topics such as housing and employment opportunities, someone from the NHS may come to talk about healthcare, an organization may come to talk about starting your own business. They have found these talks extremely valuable!   

Jenny mentioned that even Community Sponsorship group members have joined their WhatsApp groups to help create this support network and build this local group of people. Jenny’s support network is evidence that it is possible to start your own local support!