Bristol based businesses were encouraged to express commerce of empathy towards refugees living in the city.
Speaking on Wednesday 28th October in Bristol at a conference entitled ‘Sanctuary can work: The Business Community and Refugees’, the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson said businesses plays a key role in creating Bristol as a welcoming city to refugees.
“Let’s be businesses of sanctuary,” said Mayor Ferguson. Bristol as a declared city of sanctuary, Ferguson said “We must work together and improve on our quality of welcome as in my opinion is more important than numbers.”
Rev Richard McKay, Chair of Bristol City of Sanctuary said: “It is economic lunacy if we fail as a city to harness the gifts and talents of refugees.”
“Government has failed us on refugees but there is more we can do as citizens of this great city of Bristol for I strongly believe sanctuary can work,” he said.
Participants also heard testimonies by Bristolians who have survived human rights abuses and war and sought sanctuary in the UK and some of the refugees who have successfully set up their businesses in the city of Bristol and its surrounding areas.
Also speaking same conference James Durie, Director of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative said, “Inequality is not acceptable and it is bad for business.”
He said “let’s work together as a city to help refugees get work in their areas of professional expertise and turn informal labour market into formal labour market.”
The event was organised by Bristol City of Sanctuary in partnership with Business West and Clarke Willmott LLP, who hosted the event.
Since the start of 2015, over 300,000 people have arrived in Europe after desperate journeys across the Mediterranean, the majority fleeing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
As aid agencies, the public and governments mobilise to provide assistance, what can businesses do to contribute? Recognising that in a complex crisis, there are no easy answers, this half-day discussion provided space for companies and refugees in Bristol to share ideas for action important to uphold the city of Bristol’s long tradition of welcoming sanctuary seekers.