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City of Bristol thanks citizens for support to vulnerable refugees

City of Bristol thanks citizens for support to vulnerable refugees

Citizens who have volunteered and donated to support vulnerable refugees in Bristol are being praised for their generosity.

23 December 2021

In the last year (2021), Bristol City Council has welcomed over 320 refugees to Bristol through government funded resettlement schemes.

Most recently 90 people and their families, who worked for the UK government in Afghanistan, have been resettled through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) Scheme, in response to the withdrawal of troops in the country. 

Bristol citizens have generously donated over £20,000 and given more than 700 hours of volunteering and fundraising through local charities, including Aid Box Community and Bridges for Communities.

Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System, said: “The acts of kindness and generosity from residents and businesses across the city has been astoundingly heart-warming, particularly at a time when many continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Poignantly, this year Bristol celebrated 10 years as a City of Sanctuary. The ongoing response from citizens to care for refugees starting a new life here is truly reflective of our commitment to making our city a place of welcome, safety and home to vulnerable families.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by donations from local people, which have included clothing, free transport, employment support, English and sport lessons, workshops and much more. We’ve also seen residents kindly come forward to befriend refugees and volunteer on school buses and during community events.”

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees recently thanked volunteers to the ARAP scheme saying: “As a city, we are grateful for your help, support and compassion for the Afghan families who have resettled in Bristol. Your contributions have made a real difference in the lives of these families who had to flee the very real threat of violence in Afghanistan, but who now feel valued and welcomed in Bristol.”

Refugees offered sanctuary in the city have been identified as being in greatest need of protection, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk.

The council has committed to resettling 15 Afghan families and 15 families from the Middle East and North Africa a year in Bristol until 2025.

Ali resettled from Afghanistan in Bristol in August 2021 with Bristol City Council, and is currently supported by Bridges for Communities.

Ali said: “Our charity volunteer is very supportive. She’s been very good to us during this tough time. In my country, many people are not keen to volunteer and help others, so I was surprised that so many people love to in Bristol. Through Bridges For Communities we also met and made friends with other Afghan families - especially my wife who was feeling lonely.”

Doug Claringbold, Managing Director of First West of England who donated £11,000 worth of bus passes, said that being able to travel around the city was an important first step in feeling settled in Bristol.

He added: “Being able to get around the city and fulfil appointments that will help these families settle as quickly as possible is critical so we were more than happy to support this initiative.”

Support from citizens, businesses and organisations over the past 12 months include (and are not limited to):

  • Household goods and school equipment from wilko
  • 200 bus passes from FirstBus 
  • Cricket sessions from Gloucestershire Cricket Club
  • Arnolfini cinema night
  • Fundraising activities from Wotton under Edge Lions, Bristol Brunel Lions, Thornbury Lions and Dursley Lions
  • Holiday Club activities from Baggator
  • School uniforms and presents from Trutex
  •  Welcome sessions from Bristol Library
  • Tickets to We the Curious
  • Arts and crafts workshop at St Stephen’s church Secret Cafe
  • ‘Little Nicks’ playgroup at St Nicholas Church
  • St Mary Redcliffe Church
  • Tobacco Factory Theatre tickets
  • Bristol City Robins Foundation
  • Welcome party by Hannah More School 
  • Gifts from Stoke Bishop Church of England Primary
  • Support from the Council of Bristol Mosques

The council is urging landlords with empty properties available to rent to sign up to the government funded UK Resettlement Scheme and provide urgently needed homes to refugees.

Using empty homes for people in the resettlement scheme means homes are not being taken away from the main housing supply and other people in need of housing.

Find out more on the Bristol City Council resettlement page.

If you have quality unfurnished properties in Bristol and would like to find out more, email abby.hanley@bristol.gov.uk or call 07827 843205.

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