There is no denying that 2020 has been difficult for many people, for many different reasons. If there is any light in this year, it is that we have seen an outpouring of support and solidarity within communities; neighbours going out of their way to ensure no one is left without. As a charity, we have been hugely lifted to see the local refugee sector come together to make sure that people seeking sanctuary in our city continued to be supported and welcomed during the pandemic. The efforts of the sector, Bristol City Council and, of course, individuals, have made us truly proud of our City of Sanctuary.
Of course, there are many challenges. We face an increasingly negative rhetoric in the government narrative that is reflected in their policies; policies that continue to treat the right to asylum as though it is a privilege, not a right. We will continue to call for policies that treat people with compassion; for safe routes to sanctuary, for an end to indefinite detention and for people seeking sanctuary to be given the right to work. We stand in solidarity with those forced to stay in inadequate housing, in army barracks and those forced onto the street by hostile policies.
There is hope. This year, we have seen people step up and reject the hostile narrative, choosing love and unity over division. Thank you for your support over the past year. Let us continue working together, listening to the experiences of people who have sought sanctuary in this city to build a City of Welcome, Safety and Hope for all.
We wish you all the best for the festive season and hope that this New Year brings joy and sanctuary.