At the moment we get about three or four requests for help with accommodation each week, usually from students from the UK, the USA or France who have not managed to find a student room or flat and who hope that we can find a family they can stay with.
We can't, but we do give what advice or help we can.
Yesterday's call was special. The caller was a French woman.
"I have a family here from Albania, they have no shelter and since you are a pastor I thought you'd have some help to propose or some ideas..."
I suggested the emergency number 115 and the woman said she'd phone back.
When she phoned back we talked a little, 115 had been unable to help, and so I talked about the Diaconat de Bordeaux, the protestant support services in the centre of the city. It turned out that the woman was from another association next door to the diaconat, la Cimade, which works to support immigrants legally.
I thought, "they are phoning me for help 'since I am a pastor'!"
"But why have they come from Albania to France?" I asked. "Albania isn't at war, it isn't communist any longer, it's a candidate for the EU, what's their problem?"
"I don't know, they must have big problems to have come to seek asylum in France."