A charity which provides homes for refugees recorded a surge in the number of hosting offers following Gary Lineker’s row with the BBC.
The Match of the Day presenter is also a host with Refugees At Home, a charity which connects people looking to open up their spare rooms to refugees in need of a home.
It said it had received almost 100 new applications from those hoping to host refugees following the presenter’s public spat with the BBC earlier this month.
Lineker – who is the corporation’s highest paid star – was pulled off air after becoming embroiled in an impartiality row over a tweet in which he compared the language used to launch the Government’s new Illegal Migration Bill with 1930s Germany.
This plunged BBC Sport into chaos, with MOTD forced to air in silence and a host of other radio and television programmes pulled from the schedule after Lineker’s BBC Sport colleagues pulled out of appearing in solidarity. Mr Lineker has since been reinstated.
Refugees At Home said that the incident had helped them to spotlight support for refugees in the UK, appearing widely in the media as a result of their links to the presenter.
This included an article from Rasheed Baluch, the refugee housed by Lineker, who said Britons should be proud of him for his opposition to the bill. The charity received more than 90 applications to host in the 10 days following the story, it said.
Co-founder and trustee Sara Nathan OBE said that the surge in applications following the spat was “unusual” for one short period, but that they had also experienced a boom when Lineker first applied to host a refugee.
“Someone like Gary standing up to be counted – and then being supported across the BBC’s football presenting and reporting teams – is really positive for hosting. It demonstrates that haters don’t always win, that there are many helpers across the UK that people can feel sympathy for those fleeing war and persecution,” she told i.
“So while we could just be depressed by the Illegal Migration Bill and the threat of deportation preceded by internment in camps and hulks, we can see that there are generous, hospitable people across much of the UK – as you can see in our map – who were inspired to come forward.
“And that is positive for existing hosts, for our guests and would-be guests and for our team trying to bring them together.”
She added: “Personal positive stories about hosting always encourage others to apply. It’s a big step to invite someone you don’t know to live with you for a shorter or longer time, but if you see empathetic celebrities such as Gary or Rachel Riley doing so successfully, it builds confidence and awareness.
“And they are kind enough to endorse what we do, which really helps. We always need more hosts and would encourage anyone thinking of opening their doors to visit our website.“