Bristol Refugee Rights
The Foundation has awarded £150,000 to Bristol Refugee Rights over six years to contribute towards the salary of a Manager and the core running costs for its drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees.
Now in its eighth year of operation, the centre has extended its opening hours from one day to three days per week and is regularly visited by 200 members each week. The grant will enable the charity to increase its provision of services still further. These include language lessons, advice on matters such as housing and finance, and support with mental health, which is often affected by the experience of seeking asylum.
The centre combats the social isolation and poverty that is commonly experienced by refugees and asylum seekers, allowing them to build social networks and provide a gateway to employment and integration in the UK.
Abdulfadil arrived in the UK from Sudan:
“I was forced to leave my home because my life was in danger. I claimed asylum in the UK but it took eight years to get registered refugee status. Those years were very difficult; I spent time in detention, I had nowhere to live, and was reliant on handouts for about four years.
When I first came to Bristol Refugee Rights I felt good about discovering a place where I could meet people and share a hot drink. Later I returned to the centre as a volunteer; unofficially interpreting for others. Volunteering has given me the confidence and experience to get a job, and next I hope to take a course to prepare me for work.
I have lived in the UK for eight years and been to several other cities, but have never seen volunteering, help and support like that of Bristol Refugee Rights. If the organisation did not exist, asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol would be lost. It gives people life and hope, and without it, those people would have nothing. When I was destitute I relied on the weekly food bag and hot meal that I received at the Welcome Centre to keep me alive.”