We’re excited to have opened HostNation North East in Newcastle and Gateshead. Together with our partner organisation Investing in People and Culture, we’re recruiting friendly locals who want to make refugees welcome in our cities.
Since Geordies were voted the friendliest people in the UK, that’s a perfect match! Watch our hub manager Harley call on Tynesiders to step up and do what they’re best at – giving people a helping hand.
Meet Harley, the face of HostNation NorthEast
“Volunteering brings a really refreshing opportunity to meet somebody you would never otherwise get to know,” says Harley, the new face of HostNation in Newcastle and Gateshead. “It’s a wonderful chance to hear somebody else’s stories and open your social circle.”
Harley is a sculptor who lives and works in Newcastle. He loves the city and is involved with several local community projects. He is naturally interested in meeting new people and bringing them together, something he does plenty of through his involvement in the Newcastle art scene.
“I can’t wait to introduce the befriending scheme to this great city,” he says. “There’s so much on offer for new arrivals to discover - most of all, the lovely people! I’m so excited about this opportunity for our community. I know lots of volunteers will be passionate about welcoming those seeking safety and dignity on Tyneside.”
HostNation has gone from strength to strength over the last four years in London, so as such a large number of asylum seekers and refugees are re-located to Teesside and Tyneside, we are expanding our service to include these key areas. The need for isolated refugees to find friendship and acceptance is urgent.
“Refugees and asylum seekers have risked everything to get here and then get stuck in an immigration system that just treats them as statistics,” as Harley explains. “It’s time for us to show them that people care about them as human beings.
“This befriending project is a massive win for all sides. It’s not just the refugee who benefits. An overwhelming 90% of our London befrienders say their experience has been positive and rewarding.”
Once someone has filled in a registration form on our website, we will look for a friendship match and then Harley will facilitate an online or in-person introduction.
“The initial commitment from both sides is for 3 months,” he explains. “It can be as simple as just going out for a coffee or a walk in the park once a week. It isn’t a big time commitment, but it can change people’s lives. I’m really looking forward to making our first introductions and seeing them turn into flourishing friendships. Newcastle is a much friendlier place with a Geordie beside you!”
Want to know more about the benefits of befriending? Read the story of Judith and Tes, our first friendship match on Teesside.