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A perfect friend


Befriending Hamid has been “very much the highlight of my year” says Mike. The goodwill goes both ways, with Hamid describing his as “a very good guy - a perfect friend”.

The two were matched early in 2022 by Harley, who runs our Newcastle hub. Hamid, an asylum seeker in his late twenties, was referred to HostNation by Tynemet College where he was studying English. He’d been in Newcastle for nearly a year, after having being moved from one temporary accomodation to another in Leeds.

Harley was quick to pick up the phone to chat with Hamid and soon discovered that he plays the drums, having studied music for two years back in Iran. He loves hip hop, dance and electronic music and is an avid fan of the Dutch DJ, Armin van Buuren. He has also made wedding films and is a bodybuilder who is keen to become a personal trainer. His English teacher says of him: “He’s a lovely, friendly guy who loves the gym and music.”

“He seemed pretty lonely” says Harley. “He was living in a shared house out in Wallsend with other asylum seekers and just wanted a friend to hang out with at the weekend.”

Harley knew exactly who would be a good fit for Hamid. Mike Lee Thomas, a film director who plays the guitar, loves running and hiking and had volunteered to help the homeless in the past. He was happy to introduce Hamid to his friends, help him to practise his English and take him out and about.

After a few weeks, Mike told us: “We’ve hung out a bunch. I’m very much treating him like a friend and trying to integrate him into my wider friendship group when he feels more comfortable. He’s a little hesitant thinking his English isn’t great, but it’s brilliant.”

As Hamid was feeling homesick, they went on a quest to find the best Persian food in Newcastle. Mike got him tickets for a Manchester match and they regularly meet up in the West End. Hamid has introduced Mike to his flatmates and they’ve all opened up to one another. “I’ve found it very grounding to learn about their experiences,” says Mike. They’ve shared music together and Mike has learned about Persian food and Hamid’s family.

“Mike has shown me some of his films, that was great,” says Hamid. They have both found the friendship and exchange deeply rewarding. A real bond has formed between them. Hamid now has a job in a tyre shop but that won’t stop them continuing to see each other, as Hamid says, "We're friends now:

“It's a two-way thing and we are equals.”

Mike feels the same. “It’s a genuine friendship. It’s unconditional. It’s a two-way thing and we are equals. We both get a lot out of it. HostNation is pretty transformative. It’s most of all about showing up and caring.”


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