“I decided to host because I felt that having a big house I was very privileged really.” explained Hattie, “I also like company, so having different people in the house is lovely.”
Hattie first met BHN members, staff and volunteers at a BHN community event - a dinner cooked by two Iranian chefs and a singing performance. During the evening she talked to some of the founders of BHN and learned about the opportunity to host - a marvellous and brilliant idea, as she puts it!
She signed up, and was expecting to wait for a little bit of time until her first guest came to stay. However, due to the urgency of the situation her first guest moved in quite suddenly, although not before Hattie and her guest had got to know each other, having a chat over a shared meal. That was 6 years ago, and since then Hattie has hosted a number of different guests. Guests have stayed for different periods of time: one guest stayed only one week and two guests stayed for fourteen months.
Happily, Hattie was able to host someone during lockdown, and welcomed Alison to share her home. She told us, “I was as low as you could get, but was ready to have a guest. I’d been knocking around the house on my own, and having company felt right.” Although they are both quite independent, and don’t often share meals as they eat different foods, Hattie and Alison have supported each other in different ways through lockdown, including by playing Scrabble! Alison watched Hattie play scrabble on Zoom with friends and they have played three times since - so far it’s 2 games to Hattie, 1 to Alison, but Hattie says Alison is learning fast and loves looking through the dictionary.
After about 6 weeks, Alison had a tough day, and Hattie put her hand on her shoulder, and then gave her a hug. Later that day, they were talking and Alison told Hattie “I will miss you”. For Hattie, this was a very special moment, “I like those little moments. People are very appreciative and I appreciate them too.”
“I really admire her” said Hattie. She told us that Alison has been learning some first aid, and that she wants a career, to learn, to work. However, in her current situation Alison has No Recourse to Public Funds. She has been waiting 6 months for Home Office accommodation, which means she isn’t settled and she has no access to courses or learning, which is holding her back.
Hattie’s advice to new or potential hosts is to be open to someone with a different character, be honest with your limits, and humour is also helpful! She has felt valuable as a host, and it has given insight into new people’s lives. “And I’ve liked the people I’ve hosted. Isn’t it great?”