Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Security Net and Ambassadors for Social Inclusion? The Role of Intermediaries in Host–Refugee Relationships in Homestay Programs

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Abstract:  In response to refugees’ social marginalisation and lack of appropriate housing, homestay programs have emerged as a new approach to refugee accommodation. However, caring relationships between asylum‐seekers and refugees and locals are prone to reproduce power imbalances. As a countermeasure, flatshares initiated by the organisation Refugees Welcome are created within a three‐fold network of hosts, social workers, and volunteers. The volunteers serve as intermediaries and provide refugees with personalised support to become more rooted in society. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and thirty in‐depth interviews with hosts, refugees, intermediaries, and social workers in Catalonia (Spain), this article explores the responsibilities and struggles of intermediaries in the hosting networks. Results show that intermediaries give refugees and hosts a sense of security during the flatshare and keep social workers informed, yet their role varies considerably.

Keywords:  family hosting; housing; migration; refugees; volunteering



© Lara‐Désirée Brinker. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.