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City of Hope – Our community comes together

 

Dear friends,

This is a difficult time for us all. Whether the outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting your physical health, your mental health or both, we are all coming to terms with the fact that we are living in, at least for the time being, a changed world. Although people are understandably worried, it has been beautiful to witness the coming together of the community. Whilst there is a lot of news coverage on empty supermarket shelves, what needs to be acknowledged is the incredible levels of solidarity between people. We want to celebrate that solidarity in our City of Sanctuary, and our city of hope, and have chosen a few stories below. We have also included some important updates from your local refugee supporting organisations.

Please visit the NHS website if you need more information on COVID-19. Doctors of the World have also published advice in multiple languages, so if you or anyone you know would benefit from the advice being in your first language, then please click here.

Wishing you all the best,

Bristol City of Sanctuary

 

As soon as news started to spread that the elderly and more vulnerable in our society may be asked to self-isolate, communities across Bristol sprung into action. Already, a Facebook group offering Mutual Aid has attracted over 5,000 members, with posts offering drop-offs for people self-isolating, solidarity and support for those suffering with anxiety and shout-outs to the frontline staff.

One of the people who posted, highlighted the need for support for those who may struggle with English, along with those in unstable housing situations. When asked what motivated him to think of this group, he said “I’m very aware of how diverse Bristol is in terms of languages spoken. I also know that mutual aid type groups can end up being quite narrow in their demographic, so I just wanted to make sure people were thinking outside of that”

There are also leaflets going through people’s doors, offering assistance to anyone who may be self isolating. One of the people who set up a local group is Kellie, who lives in Redfield and who decided to post a leaflet through people’s doors to see if they needed anything. She has been inundated with responses from the neighbourhood, all wanting to help her help others. “I was thinking about the people who live near me who may not be able to get to the shops in a safe way, and may not have family or friends nearby who can help. I wanted them to know that they’re not alone in this: that they have neighbours who care. The amazing thing is just how many people got in touch with me, not requesting but offering help! It’s been wonderful to get to know the people I see in my neighbourhood, albeit it in a virtual way so far, and to know that there are so many people that want to help out or community. I think this experience really could change the way we live in our communities. And we’re already planning a street party for when this is all over!”

What has been inspiring to see is, in a time of need, the community coming together. It would be easy to turn inwards but instead what we have seen is an outpouring of love. It makes us so proud of our City of Sanctuary.

If you would like to sign up to volunteer in response to COVID-19, you can sign up here with Bristol City Council.

 

 

Response from Community Organisations

 

Below are updates from our partner organisations on how they are responding to COVID-19. We know that this is going to be a difficult time financially for many, but if you are able to donate then please consider giving to Quartet Community Foundation, who are raising money to support the community during this time.

As this situation is constantly developing, the information below may change.

Aid Box Community
Aid Box Community have closed their free shop and are not accepting any aid donations to minimise the potential spread of the Corona Virus.

They have instead made the decision to distribute “Emergency Aid Boxes” to service users, containing cleaning products, soap, advice leaflets and non-perishable food items.

Ashley Community Housing

Please see the message from their CEO Fuad Mahamed here.

Borderlands

Whilst the drop-in has closed for the time being, Borderlands are still providing their solidarity fund, food parcels and a hot meal by takeaway. Food to takeaway is available Tuesdays from 12:30pm-1:30pm and the solidarity fund is available Mondays by appointment only. They will continue to run the mentoring project over the phone, and are setting up a solidarity call system system to offer welfare calls to their members.

Bristol Hospitality Network

BHN have closed their drop-in but will continue providing the solidarity fund to members. They are asking for any food donations to be passed to the Trussell Trust, who still have a number of food banks open.

Bristol Red Cross

Please email [email protected] to find out about any changes to their service provision.

Bristol Refugee Rights

BRR have taken the decision to close face to face support and instead offer support over the phone, email, WhatsApp & text.

For more information on how to contact them, please click here.

The Haven

Please email [email protected] to find out about any changes to their service provision.

Project Mama

Their support will now be provided over the phone and internet, using interpreters when needed. Their weekly drop-in hub is now closed. They have done a separate ask for nappies, as some of their service users are struggling to find any. If you have any spare, then please email [email protected]

 Refugee Women of Bristol

The drop-in centre is now closed. If you need to contact them please email [email protected] or call them on 0117 9415867

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