HOST Cultural Exchanges

23 January 2020

A volunteering opportunity that gives pleasure all round!

HOST volunteers offer hospitality to international students studying here in the UK, inviting them to stay for a day or a weekend. It’s about a warm welcome, sharing meals and conversation and helping young people, far from home and family, to better understand the country in which they have chosen to study.  As a volunteer host, you get the opportunity to learn about other countries without having to fork out an air fare or spend time travelling!

Who can be a host?

All sorts of people are welcoming international students through HOST. The most important thing is that you have a heart for hospitality, an interest in meeting people from other parts of the world, and that you take pleasure in sharing your local area and community with visitors.

The majority of international students are aged 19-30, so you also need to be comfortable with this age-group, although sometimes students are older.

You need to live in the UK, but you do not need to live near a university, as students are prepared to travel in order to enjoy the experience of meeting people and seeing the country.  If you do live in, or near, a university city, you would be able to invite students for a one day visit if you prefer.  Most visits, however, are for a weekend (Friday to Sunday), or for 3 nights over Christmas. In this case, you need to have a spare bedroom for your guest.

Finally, you need to be happy to participate in HOST as a voluntary activity.  Our hosts are unpaid, giving hospitality maybe once, maybe a few times each year, because they find it a worthwhile and interesting thing to do.

Testimonies to the pleasures of hosting:

“I think on our journey through life we meet people and our paths cross and these encounters can result in many positive outcomes.  I believe that Host facilitates these encounters and enables people from different cultures to come together and share time and experiences with each other.  Through this, ideas are exchanged and our lives are enriched in many ways.  I also think that such opportunities show how similar we all are – our hopes, dreams and worries – despite differences in our backgrounds and cultures.” Host Marina Lowrie

Now in our 17th year of hosting, we can say that our visitors have always been warmly welcomed and continue to be so by our community and we have never encountered any negative attitudes. In letters to us, one of our student guests often recalls his enjoyable time in ‘the happy town’ – one of many who keep in touch.  We are confident that when our visitors return to their own countries, they take a very positive image of Britain, an impression made all the stronger by their HOST experience.” Host Sue Binns

“It feels good to help students who may be a little lonely or confused in a different country.”  Host Belinda Kerry

And heartfelt appreciation from their guests:

 “Visiting an English host, made real difference for me in understanding the English Culture in general, and helped me to open my mind to different perspectives of the life in the UK.  I do appreciate this visit and I am sure I have now new friend.  I am very glad that I went on this experience.”  Aliaa Al Daker from Syrian Arab Republic

“Your stay in The United Kingdom is incomplete if you haven’t visited and spent time with a local family, period.  The experience is out of the world and I would have definitely regretted it had I not gone ahead and made a visit.” Ronith Joy studying at Queen Mary, University of London

New hosts are always needed.  To find out more about HOST volunteering opportunities please CLICK HERE


  • Thurrock are looking for volunteers to support their carers. If you would like more information click the link.