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Spotlight on France

Locals in Lille open their homes to refugees

Audio 09:42
A migrant hugs a refugee youth service worker as he prepares to take a bus to be transferred to a reception center after the dismantlement of the "Jungle" camp in Calais, France, October 28, 2016.
A migrant hugs a refugee youth service worker as he prepares to take a bus to be transferred to a reception center after the dismantlement of the "Jungle" camp in Calais, France, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Getting asylum in France does not mean France, and French people, embrace you. It does not guarantee you a place to live, nor does it mean you will immediately be integrated into the culture. One fast-track way to do it, though, is to live with a French family, and a handful of organisations in France are working to match local hosts with migrant guests.

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When Helen saw the migrant crisis unfolding in 2015, she jumped into action. She found an organisation that would help her host refugees in her home in Lille, a town in northern France just 100 kilometers away from Calais, which until the end of 2016 was the site of a giant, informal refugee camp.

For the past year she has been hosting a 21-year-old Afghan man, about the same age as her two children. And they have developed an unusual bond.

Listen to her story, and others involved in housing migrants in northern France, by clicking on the photo above.

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