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Hello befrienders, welcome to our 14th fortnightly newsletter!

A much-loved London event, the Open House festival, takes place across the city on Saturday 21st-Sunday 22nd. It's a brilliant opportunity to engage with urban design and explore the architectural richness we have here.

Over 800 buildings not normally open to the public - from major institutions and historic gems, to City icons or quirky private homes tucked away in suburbia -  are free to visit and the programme includes walks, talks and tours. Some very popular events need to be pre-booked, for others you may find yourself queuing for a while, but there are plenty more where you can just turn up. It's fun just to have a peak at places in your own borough or your refugee friend's neighbourhood that you might never have known existed.

Open House's website has a useful map and listings with opening times over the weekend  See their own selection of highlights here:
Also running from 14th to 22nd September is the London Design Festival which celebrates the city as design capital of the world. There are tours, workshops and activities at the V&A hub, but you can also take a seat on a curvaceous installation, Please Be Seated, by Paul Cocksedge in Finsbury Square, wander through the monochromatic Life Labyrinth by PATTERNITY outside Westminster Cathedral, or discover a work inspired by the idea of a portable village, as Martino Gamper's Disco Cabonara creates a gateway to Coal Drops Yard.

And if your friend is interested in Arabic culture from North Africa, MARSM's 2nd Stances Festival, a multimedia and performance festival dedicated to artists from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, will be held at Rich Mix on Saturday 21st. All events during the day are free (donations requested), apart from the screening of a feature film and live music in the evening. And for this, a triple bill concert concluding the event, MARSM are offering HostNation 20 free tickets.  If you would like a ticket for yourself and your friend (or for them and a friend of theirs), please email with names for us to put on the guestlist by Wednesday 18th. 
Also coming up are two events at Mike's Table, the pop-up supper club that provides free tickets to local charity and community groups with the profit made from paying guests; once again HostNation has been offered free places for our befrienders and their befriendees.

On Wednesday 25th September, at 7.30pm,  at Cafe Allpress, in Dalston, Mike's Harvest Festival will celebrate the abundance of autumnal British produce with a delicious menu devised by their chefs. To start with there will be cocktails and mocktails -  if the weather is good, out in the cafe's front garden. A 3 course meal made from food collected from their food partners, will then be served at long, communal tables for people to share. Send us an email ( if you'd like to go with your friend.

The second event, Mike's Table's first ever Yoga Brunch, will be held at Refettorio Felix, (St Cuthberts, 51 Philbeach Gardens, SW5 9EB) on Saturday 29th September, at 10am. There'll be tea or coffee on arrival, followed by an hour-long yoga class with poses designed to stretch and relax, suitable both for people new to yoga and advanced practitioners.  At 11.15am a brunch for all to sit down and enjoy together will be served. Yoga mats will be provided, but you're welcome to take your own. Spaces are limited to 20 people, so if you are interested, do get in touch with us soon to let us know! 

And more things to do for free in London:

1. The Totally Thames festival continues till the end of the month, with a great selection of free events, artworks and performances. It's a great opportunity to explore the history of the river.
2. The new permanent gallery, Being Human,,at the Wellcome Collection, is a free exhibition which takes a fresh approach to health, science, art and medicine. Exploring what it means to be human, it draws on different perspectives and personal stories from artists, activists, clinicians and researchers to challenge how we think about ourselves, each other and the world around us.
3. Another new gallery, the Linbury at the Science Museum, Science City 1550-1800, opening now, focuses on the capital's contribution to science, exploring how scientists and artisans here transformed our understanding of the world over 250 years. Highlights include a copy of Newton's Principia Mathematica, Newton's telescope, and Robert Hooke's microscope and illustrations.
4. And a reminder that, as HostNation has joined their community membership scheme, Kew Gardens should be on your list of free things to do with your friend.  Catch the last few weeks of Chihuly's stunning glass sculptures exhibited throughout the gardens, which is on until the end of October Contact us if you want to go and we will send you the voucher for you, your friend and your families to access it for free. 

If you have been matched in the last week or two and this is the first newsletter you've received, you can find previous ones on our website under News.  In particular, for those of you with a friend who's keen to go to college, there is information in no.12 about adult courses, particularly ESOL ones. 

All best wishes, HostNation team
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