Bristol has a proud reputation for being a welcoming city for refugees and asylum seekers, and was officially recognised as a City of Sanctuary in 2010. Sanctuary seekers make huge contributions to our city, and we must celebrate and welcome the diversity that makes up Bristol. With the horrifying stories in the news recently regarding more migrants losing their lives crossing the channel, it is more important than ever that we do what we can as a city to support people seeking sanctuary and present ourselves as a welcoming and safe destination.
Bristol City of Sanctuary is part of a network of Cities of Sanctuary across the UK, and holds the vision that our nations will be welcoming places of safety and proud to offer sanctuary to all who need it. They do so much fantastic work in our communities to make sure Bristol upholds it’s tradition of being a welcoming and inclusive city.
Just a few of the important things they do include supporting local organisations and individuals in Bristol to deliver services for refugees and asylum seekers; working with local schools and colleges to help them become welcoming places for those seeking sanctuary; and organise events and conferences that celebrate sanctuary within the city and look at ways to tackle injustice that can be faced by refugees and asylum seekers.
The charity also raises vital funds for the Bristol City of Sanctuary Transport Fund, a community initiative which provides bus tickets for destitute asylum seekers and vulnerable refugees who would otherwise be unable to access vital services and appointments by public transport. Every donation made is matched by First Bus.
This initiative is so important, as it enables people to attend crucial appointments with doctors and solicitors, or go to drop-in centres for meals and social and moral support. Many asylum seekers will have gone through so much and this support is vital to help them survive the trauma of destitution and loss of home and identity, and combat isolation in a new country. Many of the people who receive the tickets are also required to sign at Patchway for immigration reporting. Without the support of the City of Sanctuary Transport Fund, they would have to walk over 5 miles to get to the station.
Bristol City of Sanctuary is always looking for people to get involved in what they do, whether as an individual or representing an organisation. You can do this as a supporter by spreading the word of welcome in your community and actively welcoming those seeking asylum. You can become a member, and help to shape the direction of the charity, or become a donor to support the work of the charty financially so they can continue supporting refugees and asylum seekers. There are also a range of different volunteering opportunities available. Check out their website to find out more about their work and how to get involved.