Are you thinking about hosting people who have fled war and what you need to be a good host? For most, things like bedding, clothing or closet space may come to mind first. But it’s often the less obvious things that make the biggest difference. So here’s a list of five things you should offer if you want to host refugees from Ukraine.
After their often traumatizing experiences, refugees need one thing above all: a safe roof over their heads with protected spaces to process their experiences. If you want to host refugees in your home, make sure you can offer them good retreat facilities, such as a room for their own use. Be sure to respect the privacy of your roommates:inside!
In the long run, even a separate living unit like a granny apartment would be advisable. If you are a tenant yourself, you should seek permission from your landlord or landlady for long-term lodging.
Those who want to take in refugees should themselves be resilient and psychologically stable. For many, the impressions from the media are already very close. The contact with affected people is much more immediate.
Ask yourself what your personal limits are. However, it is also important to note: you are not responsible for dealing with your guests’ wartime experiences. You can signal a willingness to talk, but you do not have to provide the help of a therapist! For this purpose, there are psychosocial centers with professional support.
3. Empathy and openness
A nice sit-down over dinner? Weekend trips together? Sure, such an exchange would be nice. But we must not confuse our “first aid” in this situation with a “cultural exchange”.
Examine your expectations and motives for your hosting time. Your guests may be traumatized, may withdraw a lot, and may need time to themselves. Therefore, they may have little capacity for lively contact and exchange – nor for gratitude to you. Are you open to it?
Wherever people live together, there are points of conflict – your shared apartment with refugees will be no exception. The smaller the spatial separation, the more important the clear agreement becomes:
How long should the accommodation last? How should the purchase of food proceed? What are your expectations of your guests when sharing a kitchen or bathroom, for example? Who should take over which tasks in the household?
The more transparent you are with your ideas here, the easier it is to prevent conflicts and find solutions.
5. Help for self-help
A growing network of supporters and counseling centers is now available for Ukrainian refugees. We try to give you an up-to-date overview of where your guests can turn to on various life issues. You don’t have to do everything for your guests! Often, helping people to help themselves is the best support.