The UK’s social distancing measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented changes to individual and social lives. The lives of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants have been impacted in specific ways that often cause people to lose their homes, live in cramped spaces, lose access to education and support and are alone in a new country. Additionally, homes for hosting are difficult to find as residents self-isolate.

Below are some resources regarding the changes made to immigration processes, this issue in the media, local MK services and volunteering opportunities.

Local MK services

  • Sanctuary Hosting finds homes for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants by placing them as guests with volunteer hosts for short periods of time. In the five years that the organisation has been operating over 80 households in Oxford, Milton Keynes & Reading have offered a room or sofa bed for free. Our hosts and volunteer support workers are remarkable people, happy to share their homes, time and energy to support people whose friends and family are far away. If you would like to volunteer as a host or support worker with Sanctuary Hosting, or make a donation to help us continue our work, please visit or call Sarah on 07378 302 491.

Due to Covid 19, Sanctuary Hosting is working to keep our current guests and hosts safe. We have fewer homes available at the moment as some hosts need to self-isolate. We are still open to referrals but the process will be far slower than usual. If you or anyone you know could offer a room at this difficult time, we would love to hear from you.
Thanks and stay safe.

  • Our main objectives are: To relieve financial hardship among those seeking asylum and those granted refugee status particularly by the provision of support, advice and translation services AND to advance the education of the public in general about the issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum. Donate to Refugees Welcome.

National services:

Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, a charity supporting the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into British society and improving access to mainstream services. We have a team of Farsi, Dari and Pashtu speaking volunteers who are on hand to provide advice and information to marginalised local communities who require advice in their own languages. 
Contact number is 0208 572 0300. Opening Hours are 10am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

How can you help?
Volunteering opportunities

While hosting opportunities are currently on hold during these times, you might want to consider hosting when Covid-19 lockdown rules have been relaxed. This is likely going to be a time when services will be stretched and your hospitality will be needed even more.

If you are interested in any of the following opportunities at Sanctuary Hosting, get in touch at

Volunteer Host
A Host is someone who generously accommodates a refugee, migrant
or asylum seeker in their own home. This is usually in a spare room.

Read more in the role description below:

Volunteer Guest Support Worker
Volunteer guest support workers provide practical support to guests
within the hosting scheme, serving as a main contact. The guest support worker attends meetings relating to their hosting placement with the guest. During the placement, the guest support worker makes weekly check-in contact e.g. phone calls or text message and meets with the guest in person at least once per month. The support worker’s role is to support the guest to access services as needed and report to the Service Manager any issues
that might arise within the hosting placement.

Read more in the role description below:

Host Support Worker

Host support workers provide quality assessment and monitoring of
potential hosts in a timely and professional manner that ensures we are providing the safest and most appropriate temporary homes and support available to our guests. Host support workers are the main contact point for hosts and are essential for maintaining good links and communication between host and Sanctuary Hosting.

Read more in the role description below:

Read the case study of Cynthia, a host at Sanctuary Hosting:

I think it’s really good to actually extend friendship to other people, because you never know when you’re going to need it in return.

I do think that the measures that SH put in place are really helpful. So if people are thinking of doing it, then what there is are very good measures to help provide a structure around the hosting scheme.

Cynthia, Sanctuary Host Volunteer

Changes to asylum and immigration processes

Because of the Coronavirus public health crisis, there have been some temporary changes to the asylum and immigration process. Read more about this here: