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Today marks World Refugee Day. Our co-chair Caroline Beatty & manager Forward Maisokwadzo have produced a piece on the theme of Imagine. This has also been published on Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees’ blog.

IMAGINE… a world in which everyone can breathe.

…where the air does not contain hidden danger, and you can embrace a stranger or shake hands without fear of sickness.

…where it is your right to breathe whatever the colour of your skin, in which you stand tall and take a full place in society and community, without fear of being choked to death on the street by someone in power because you are black.

… where the air is clean, and no-one will be suffocated by fires from global warming because we are destroying the planet’s own lungs, the rainforests.

Today, on World Refugee Day, imagine that everyone throughout their lives can breathe the sweetest air of all, that of their own homeland. That neither sickness, persecution, conflict nor climate change will cause anyone the heartache of having to leave the land where they were born.

Three global issues– the pandemic, racial inequality and the climate emergency – show that what we have in common as human beings is far more important than our differences.  As a people we must treat each other with dignity and respect. During the pandemic we have understood better how to help each other out and especially how to support vulnerable people. We have witnessed and experienced the revolution of generosity here in Bristol, and in so many other places nationally and across the world.

Let us continue to insist that  migrants in the UK with No Recourse to Public Funds who make vital contributions to the UK economy, are included in welfare provision and not denied support when unexpected things happen in their lives[i]. Let us continue to fight for the release of the stranglehold on people seeking sanctuary[ii], by lifting the ban on asylum seekers from working, providing an adequate living allowance, enabling equal access to health care, and by not leaving anyone on the street destitute while they struggle to pursue their quest to live in safety. Let us be ready, if the time comes, to include a welcome and a place for people who may have to leave their land because climate change has made it intolerable to stay.

Let us all be inspired by our Bristol City of Sanctuary vision of wanting to build a city of welcome, safety and hope for all, including people seeking sanctuary from war, violence, persecution and impact of climate change.

By working together we can make Bristol a city in which everyone can breathe!

[i] Bristol’s Mayor’s has written to the PM and Home Office on this issue – see letter

[ii] Bristol City of Sanctuary has written to the Mayor and all Bristol MPs asking for radical changes to the asylum system – see letter

[“IMAGINE…”  is the theme of this year’s Refugee Week celebration, adopted by Bristol Refugee Festival 16-21 June ]
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