In the beginning of 2023 Home Accommodation Network support association conducted an anonymous survey for accommodation providers and received 53 responses. Information was collected about the arrangements of respondents´own accommodation and whether the host has assisted those staying also in other matters, for example dealing with the authorities. We also asked what kind or support the accommodation providers have received and what kind of support might be needed.
Majority (more than half) of the respondents have hosted Ukrainians seeking temporary protection. Most of them had established contact with those staying through Home Accommodation Network.
Majority of accommodation providers (32 respondents out of 53) were families. Among the respondents there were those whose accommodation had already ended and some were still on-going. With a slight majority the accommodation was already over. Some accommodation providers had had several consecutive accommodations during 2022. Those staying were both individual people and whole families.
Some Ukrainians who were in home stay have returned to Ukraine. Some have found their own apartment or are staying in reception centre that provides separate apartments for its clients.
The routes to becoming home accommodation provider are many. Some have announced in social media platforms that they are ready to host and found people looking for accommodation there. Some have established contact with person(s) they host through voluntary work or acquintances.
Home stay hosts guide newcomers into the society
In most cases home accommodation means more than just housing. Most of the respondents of the survey said they had supported those staying at their home in various other ways too.
Home accommodation providers have offered all kinds of help in dealing with Finnish authorities – e.g with the police, Kela, Digital and Population Data Services Agency. Hosts have accompanied the asylum / temporary protection seekers to the services, adviced on how to fetch goods from charities´ distribution points, offered car rides, guided to public transport and bicycling and into the local communities and looked for activities for immigrants and facilitated finding contacts. Many accommodation providers have helped in applying for jobs and drafting CVs.
Some accommodation providers hope that the society would offer more support and recognition to the fact that home stay hosts significantly assist integration of those newly arrived in the country.
Those staying in home accommodation are in a completely new society and taking care of their matters usually requires them to absorb a lot of new information and support is needed. Even simple things like visiting a cash machine or shopping may require help at first.
Variety of motivations
The most often mentioned motivation for providing home stay was willingness to help, especially related to the emotions provoked by the Ukrainian war among Finnish people. Situation of children has touched many people. Providing home stay is one way to do one´s share.
One respondent said in an open question: “The fact that it was possible to do something tangible despite the insanity of war brought a certain calmness. It felt like being able to fight against evil at least a little, even if in a very small scale.”
Part of the home stay providers feel that getting to know new people, languages and cultures is important and widening their life.
“I have gotten to know wonderful people and learnt a lot about Ukraine. The agitation caused by the war got a lot milder after I was able to do something useful and in my opinion valuable”, stated one respondent.
The war comes close
In some cases home accommodation has turnt out to be more burdensome than was thought beforehand. Some respondents said that living together with someone fleeing war brings it very close and makes the war part of their daily life. It is not easy to encounter a person who has gone through traumatic events and it is something accommodation providers may need some support in.
Majority of respondents say they have found their person staying with them from Home Accommodation Network and also that they have received information from the network. Most often the support needed by the host is information.
Large portion of respondents say that they did not feel need of specific support. According to the staff of the support association this is typically the situation when home accommodation has taken place after careful consideration. If the accommodation starts without sufficient information beforehand, surprising situations may occur and more support is needed.