A local Charity, Bristol Hospitality Network and Bristol City Council have issued an urgent appeal to help house asylum seekers in Bristol.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bristol City Council has temporarily housed a number of asylum seekers in hotels across the city, covering the cost. When this arrangement comes to an end, without move-on accommodation, all of these individuals could return to the streets.
Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) is working together with the council, to find move-on accommodation for these asylum seekers who have been made destitute. Usually the charity do this through their 11-bed men’s hostel and a network of hosts, but at the moment, the hostel is full so they need to find more hosts to support some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
Lizzie Briggs, Director of Bristol Hospitality Network, said: “This is our chance to show our solidarity as a city and prevent people from returning to the streets. Stable and safe accommodation makes the difference between a successful asylum case and permanent destitution here in the UK. By hosting an asylum seeker, you are offering vital support at a crucial turning point in someone’s life; someone who has already been through immense trauma to get here.”
Asylum seekers in Bristol are destitute, with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), no right to social housing, no right to rent privately and no permission to work.
Many asylum seekers have come from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan and will have lost a lot on their journey to safety. Offering someone in need a room and your trust is a very immediate way to show welcome and solidarity.
Volunteer Hosts would need to offer a spare room or living space for a minimum of three months. Most guests are self-sufficient and need very little in terms of time or energy. Just a safe place to sleep and a warm welcome. Hosts are able to join an active network, which will provide advice and support. All guests are actively supported by BHN to make progress with their asylum claims while hosted, and BHN also provide them with food and some money.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “As a City of Sanctuary we want Bristol to be a place where everyone feels welcome and safe. We have a great opportunity to make sure that no one has to return to the streets following the Covid-19 crisis, and that includes people seeking asylum in our city. If you think you could host and provide support for an asylum seeker during a pivotal stage in their life, please do come forward. You could make the difference and help them on their journey to a better life.”