This international day of charity, we’re highlighting the ultimate in volunteering – sharing your home with someone seeking safety and shelter. We want to celebrate the incredible contribution of our brilliant volunteers to Sanctuary Hosting, particularly Mrs. Kate Bowen, who has shown her belief in our ethos of sanctuary by supporting numerous individuals in need since day one.

Sanctuary Hosting was founded with an ‘open minds, open hearts’ mindset, and if there is someone that truly embodies this vision, it is Kate Bowen, who is a trustee, host, support worker, media spokesperson, admin support… the list goes on!

Kate became one of the founding members of Sanctuary Hosting in 2015, and since then her family has welcomed 12  guests to their home, 3 during the COVID 19 pandemic, represented Sanctuary Hosting on radio stations across the Thames Valley, hosted a Summer Party for our guests, volunteers and staff, provided support when appraising new host and guest referrals, provided shelter to individuals at very short notice, driven guests to appointments, and we got so lucky as to have her join our Board of Trustees.

Madeleine is also an extraordinary representation of charity and kindheartedness. Moved to make her spare room a sanctuary out of a feeling of helplessness in the face of the refugee crisis at its peak in 2015, She has hosted 9 guests at her home in Oxford over the past 4 years. She says: ‘It’s more than just ‘doing good’. It’s quite deep. It’s about equality and respect, and all those things. You’re living it a bit, rather than just reading about it or thinking about it.’

Of course – like having any guests – there can be difficult moments, and many of the guests are traumatised by their past experiences, but there are also moments of magic. ‘It’s amazing being able to laugh about things with people from a different culture. I love that – when you find so much difference, but you find something you can both giggle about, or do together. Humour is a really big positive.’

We are eternally grateful for the outstanding support we have received from our volunteers in the past years. In the words of our Service Manager, Sarah Wahby: “it never gets old after so many times and years, it astounds me away every time when a host family says to a complete stranger: ‘My home is your home, help yourself to anything you need’. Hosts show such generous hospitality to someone who otherwise could be in a dire and unimaginable situation.”