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Welcome to the first entry in a new blog discussing the main issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers. Since March 2012 I have been working as the Outreach & Project Officer for Bristol City of Sanctuary- a role I enjoy and highly value. Prior to that I have 17 years’ experience working as a trade union official for the Communication Workers Union. Through this blog the aim is to both highlight some of the key challenges faced by sanctuary seekers in Bristol and the on-going work which help to make Bristol a place of safety and welcome. I hope that you will join in by giving your views and feedback.

In recognition of the work already being done, as well as well as its aspirations to do more, Bristol was awarded City of Sanctuary status on 2nd March 2011 by the City of Sanctuary National Network.

This followed a vote of support by the full council of Bristol City Council on 16th November 2010. On Wednesday 22 June 2011, an explosion of colour, music, motion and emotion marked a historic official launch of Bristol’s status as a City of Sanctuary.

Twelve months on we celebrated the first anniversary of this momentous event by hosting a Tea with the Lord Mayor event at the Mansion House on Weds 20th June 2012 to mark World Refugee Day, and launching the 2nd edition of our Bristol Globe magazine celebrating the rich diversity of Bristol’s community.

Whilst much progress has been made, the City of Sanctuary movement and all of our supporters recognise that a great many challenges need to be faced to truly build a City of Sanctuary in Bristol. As we look forward it is those challenges that we need to address.

The recent City of Sanctuary supporters meeting was attended by around 100 people and identified 4 key areas to be tackled:

  • Safety
  • Shelter
  • Understanding
  • Work

Over the coming months we will be engaging with all of our supporters to find ways to identify and take the actions necessary to make a real difference to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. We’ll also be keeping you updated on what’s happening with initiatives such as our Schools & Colleges of Sanctuary- to be launched officially on September 27 at City Academy Bristol.

Watch this space – and please feel free to get involved and let us have your views.

Matt Gillett
Outreach & Project Officer
[email protected]

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