We are often told that one of the things that sets Bright World apart is the great network of host families we work with and how successful we are in matching students with their 'forever family'.
We have recently done some research by talking to members of our host family network and analysing their 'journey' with us. One of the things that has stood out from our findings is how long many of our host families have worked with us. Some have been working with us for more than 15 years.
This realisation led us to try and find out what makes hosting such a great experience. We wanted to know what it is that makes people just want to keep on doing it for so long. We decided to poll some of our host families and the results are in...
Lisa McGowan, Bright World Local Coordinator for the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire areas also acts as one of our host families.
Lisa really gets involved in activities with the students and got them pumpkin carving at Halloween. Lisa also hosted students in her very large and comfortable home for Christmas 2021, when so many were unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
Lisa tells us that she likes being a host family because she enjoys offering a home from home for visiting students. She loves getting to know them better, learning about their culture and interests, and says it is extra fulfilling to get to know their families too.
Tracey D'Cruz, one of Bright World's trusted host families really enjoys the entire experience of hosting and welcoming our students into her home during the holiday times. She is particularly happy that not only can she help her students to enjoy their holidays but, in turn, they provide her and her family with such an interesting role. They love getting to know students and learning all about their different cultures.
Joan Downs, one of Bright World's longstanding host families says that having young people staying with them in their home is an absolute joy. The family enjoys talking with their students and hearing about their country and home life.
Mandy Crack, one of Bright World's more recently recruited host families, cannot speak highly enough about the Bright World team and says that choosing to work with us was a very good decision.
She says she has found that the whole experience has enriched and broadened their minds and she is so pleased that it has given the students she has hosted a safe haven whilst they are away from their families.
Mandy has also enjoyed cooking different foods from around the world and likes to see students enjoy her cooking.
We have learnt that host families stay with us because they find the experience so meaningful and they realise they are making a huge difference to the children they host. They also find it enhances their lives and helps them and their own children to learn about new and different cultures.
What we have also discovered is that the bond does not end when a student leaves our guardianship service. We regularly hear stories from our host families about how they have kept in touch with their students, some even attending their university graduation ceremonies on behalf of their parents.
We can see that hosting students means a lot more than just welcoming someone for an exeat or half term, and it can mean the making of lifelong connections.