Live in London?
Got a spare room?
We know something you can do with that.
Many of us living in London are lucky enough to have a spare room that we might use for the odd guest stay, studying, storage and even afternoon napping on the sofa bed. Hosting with Room for Change is an easy way to use that spare room to make a big difference to a young person by helping them to take part in career opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
Internships, work experience and graduate jobs are disproportionately located in London compared to the rest of the country. In charities, internships are the typical way to start your career. However being able to access internships, or other entry-level roles in the sector often requires being able to afford to live in London or having a family home or friends to stay with in the capital. Not all young people and graduates have this and this is leading to huge inequality in the job market.
This is a particular issue in the social impact sector which is missing out on many social groups in it’s workforce including people from working-class backgrounds, people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups and people who’ve had particular life experiences like being in care.
The Room for Change hosting scheme is a practical response to this big problem. By offering your spare room for even just one night you could ensure a graduate or young person is able to take part in an opportunity they couldn’t otherwise. And Room for Change offers mentoring and other support to our young members alongside the hosting, to give them the best chance possible.
While we're not linking hosts and guests during lockdown, you can still sign up now, because fingers crossed things will be up and running again soon.
What does hosting involve?
Hosting involves offering your spare room for free to a young person aged 20-30 who needs it to access a career opportunity in the social impact sector. You decide how long you will offer your room for and how many times to offer it. You can offer stays for any length of between one night up to a maximum of two weeks. It offers guests a much safer, cheaper and more supportive option than say sofa surfing or hostels- and for some these options will not be affordable anyway.
Who can be a host?
To be a host you need to be able to offer a private, safe and comfortable room that a graduate can have sole use of for the duration of their stay. You need to live within London and a rough rule of thumb for this is within a 60 minute commute of central stations such as London Bridge, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street. Everyone in your home needs to be supportive of the hosting arrangement.
Do you do any checks on the guests?
Yes, we verify that they have a career opportunity in place for the dates they provide such as interview, work experience or internship and we confirm they can’t access the opportunity without support from Room for Change.
Do you provide support to hosts and guests?
Hosts and guests sign an agreement. This sets out some basic ground rules for everyone, and you have a chance to add your own bits to it too. If hosts or guests have any concerns about the hosting arrangement during their stay, each will have a named point of contact at Room for Change who you can contact for support. We will try and help you resolve things and if it can’t be worked out, we’ll help you bring the hosting to a supported end.
How are hosts and guests matched?
Once registered, hosts and guests make a profile. When a member needs accomodation we verify their request and then share the profiles of hosts who can meet their requirements (e.g. if they need a room for a week we share the profile of those willing to offer a free stay for a week). They will send you a message and introduce themselves through the Room for Change platform and you’ll be able to accept the stay or not.
Do you check hosts?
Yes. For the safety and security of everyone, we do check our hosts. We check the space you have to offer, and that you and everyone you live with understands the purpose and scope of the scheme and is supportive of hosting.
Why would I want to host?
Hosting is an amazing way to make a difference by donating use of something you have and someone else needs. If you’d like to support social change but perhaps don’t have time or other resources to give right now, but you do have a spare room, hosting is a way to give that support. In our current small network of hosts, everyone has worked in the social impact sector for at least some of their career and they are motivated to host as they have experienced the lack of diversity first hand. It is a great chance for our hosts to share professional experience with your guest and have an informal mentoring relationship. That said, you don’t have to have worked in this sector to host.
How do I become a host?
It’s really simple. You fill in a sign up form which will take around 15 minutes. After this one of our team will arrange a call with you- and the call is usually about 30 minutes. Finally, we make a friendly home visit or conduct this via Skype and this takes no more than an hour.
Doesn’t this just encourage bad employment practices like unpaid internships?
The problems with workforce diversity are a big, knotty mess. It’s not just about low (or no!) pay, it’s about the cost of rent and living in London, bad transport links, the culture of organisations, inequality of access to university courses and much more. Solving all this will take many small and big efforts over time. In the meantime though, we believe it’s right to take a pragmatic approach to reduce all the barriers that we can and level the playing field. Because we don’t give grants for things like food and travel, it’s unlikely that someone on a completely unpaid internship could use our scheme unfortunately and we specifically don’t offer grants for these day to day expenses so we don’t actively support the practice of unpaid internships.
Is hosting allowed in rented accomodation?
Subletting (renting out a room in a property that you rent) is generally not allowed by landlords and agencies however allowing use of a room for free is usually alright for short periods. The contract you will have with Room for Change if you become a host will demonstrate you are allowing use of the room for free, for a short, defined period and not sub-letting. If you are considering hosting, you can contact your landlord or agent for clarity and advice. Unfortunately Room for Change cannot provide advice on this.
Might hosting affect my housing benefits or sole occupancy council tax discount?
Individual councils may take different approaches but providing hosting for a guest could affect the amount of housing benefits hosts receive on the basis that you have a spare room or because the guest is a non-dependant adult who should in the council's view be paying rent. If you are considering hosting you can contact your council with any queries. Unfortunately Room for Change cannot provide advice on this.
Will my insurance cover the guest while hosting them?
The scope of coverage offered by insurance policies varies, so you should contact your insurer with any queries. You may need to notify your insurer, have your policy amended or obtain your insurer's consent in order to host. Room for Change cannot accept any liability in relation to hosting arrangements.