Becoming a host family for pupils or students from another country can be one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences imaginable. Bringing someone from the outside world into your family environment and finding out what it is really like to live in another country can be fascinating and deeply fulfilling, whilst at the same time providing many interesting opportunities for you and your own children. For example, if someone in your house is studying German, how useful would it be to be able to chat and question a German friend over your evening meal? Or perhaps you are thinking of travelling to Germany on holiday…?
Most people, once they’ve tried it, are happy to do it again
Connect Europ have been working with a large number of host families for many years now and we have found that, whilst it is initially unusual within the UK to host someone for three months or even one year, most people once they have tried it are happy to do it again. Also, we have learned that this is an excellent way for families to make meaningful friendships and maintain ongoing contact with both the young person they have hosted and also their family. In fact, every time we speak to host families about hosting again there are tales of ongoing contact, private visits, the exchange of cards and presents and of course two-way private exchanges and holidays.
So why not give it a try?
Because of the wide area covered by our placement programmes, and the large number of different schools involved, we are always looking for new host families – we often find that we have available families situated near schools that cannot accept placements at a particular time, whilst we are short of families near schools that do wish to be involved. The geography of placements for every group is different from the one before, and as many of our placements are in rural areas we often find ourselves short of host families.
For both our one-term and one-year placement programmes, we are simply looking for normal families willing to accept a young person from abroad into their family as an honorary family member. We ask that you care for your visitor as you would your own child, and support them whilst they attend a local school full time. These youngsters are of course guests, but not in the way that you are expected to do everything for them or take them sightseeing at every opportunity – they are expected to fit into family life, taking their turn with everyone else in the house to feed the cat or do the washing up. Each child needs their own bedroom, but other than that is expected to share in the normal life of your family.
All pupils and students have studied English for several years, so communication is more about getting used to different accents and understanding the meaning of particular words or phrases. Normally only one pupil is placed with a particular family, as this aids their use of English and allows everyone in the family to get to know each other better. This is not a commercial programme, but all costs are covered by the German family. A weekly allowance towards costs is paid to host families (please contact us for details of the current rate), the young person is delivered to and picked up from your home, school transport costs are covered and your guest will come with their own pocket money. We aim to support the German participants, host families and schools throughout the placement so you will not be left on your own.
The application process
If you are interested in applying to become a host family, please complete the on-line application form or simply give us a ring to discuss things further. We will then contact you and arrange a convenient time to meet you. We visit all host families and talk everything through with them in detail, and we are also required to perform a full Enhanced CRB check for everyone in the household over the age of 16. Many people already have these, and if you have the latest version, it may not be necessary to complete another. However, the check itself is simply a matter of filling out a form and confirming your identity by showing certain documents. There is no charge to you, and you receive a copy of the CRB document to keep, so if you don’t already have one this may be useful for other purposes.
Once you are on our register of host families, there is no requirement to accept a young person from every group (remember, we receive two groups per year) but we will keep in contact and ask when you are available or interested in hosting.