We are now nearly two weeks into lockdown, and organisations across the city have been busy trying to make sure that those most vulnerable are getting the support they need. It is a worrying time for all, but it has been inspiring to see the efforts made by so many, working to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks. Refugee service organisations have stopped face to face support and instead are supporting their members through other means, which you can read about below.
Last week Bristol City Council announced that they would be opening up accommodation for those with nowhere to sleep. We were delighted to hear that this would include those with no recourse to public funds, and is a scheme that is offered regardless of immigration status. Referrals are to be done through St Mungos.
Bristol City Council have also launched a free telephone service for the most vulnerable in the city to access support during this time. The We are Bristol telephone line is open Monday-Friday, from 8:30am-5pm, offering a non-digital lifeline for those in need. They will help to obtain food and medical supplies, whilst also signposting if necessary. The translation and interpretation service will be working with them if required. They can be contacted on 0800 694 0184.
On Monday, Aid Box Community will launch two new schemes in response to the crisis, aimed at making sure the needs of refugees and asylum seekers are met during these times. Volunteers working for AidBoxConnections will be reaching out to refugees and asylum seekers who are isolated, having regular contact with them and signposting them if needed. The AidBoxCommunityEmergencyAid scheme has been set up to provide food and other essentials to refugees and asylum seekers who are self-isolating. They will be offering to deliver food packages, essential cleaning and toiletry products and necessary medication. You can read more about both schemes, donate to support them and fill in referral forms here.
The Bristol Refugee Forum, made up of organisations across the sector, are working hard together to make sure that the needs of service users during this time are met. Many organisations are continuing to offer support from a distance, by telephone or email. Borderlands are also, after stringent risk assessment and consultations, continuing their Solidarity Fund on a Monday by appointment, along with providing hot food and food packages for members to take away on a Tuesday. They are ensuring safe distancing for both the wellbeing of members and staff. Bristol Refugee Rights have produced information on what each organisation in sector is doing at this time, available in several languages. Please click here to view.