An account of our Show Your Heart event written by our campaigns intern, Lauren Brown
On Monday 21st March, we held a flotilla and speeches at College Green as part of a nationwide campaign with Together With Refugees, to demonstrate Bristol’s welcome to those seeking sanctuary and to present an alternative vision to the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill, under which people escaping the same horrors would be treated differently depending on how they get here.
We were delighted to see so many people turn out. Supported by Bristol Ferry Boats and Bristol Packet Boat Trips, we sailed around the harbour – the heart of Bristol – displaying large orange hearts, a symbol of compassion and hope for people fleeing war, violence and persecution. We even bumped into a famous Bristol figure – himself the son of a French refugee – showing his heart from the deck below S.S. Great Britain.
After disembarking, we all processed to College Green where we heard from a roster of incredible speakers – representing both those with lived experience and representatives from Bristol’s political, arts, and faith communities. Souvik, JP, Baher, Amie and Krystina gave moving accounts of how hard it is to leave friends and family, your home country and all that is familiar to you, urged us as a country to fix our broken asylum system, and emphasised the contributions people coming here can make to our communities.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig, Margaret Ulloa from St Nicholas of Tolentino, Chair
of the Council of Bristol Mosques Arif Khan, CEO of Watershed Clare Reddington,
and Cllr Tim Wye each shared their thoughts on the importance of welcome. A common theme was our shared humanity, and the importance of welcoming everyone, regardless of where they come from. After speaking, everyone hung an
orange heart on our Tree of Sanctuary.
We ended with a call to action: Sign our Open Statement against the Nationality and Borders Bill, and write to your MP asking them to reject it, and to support a
commitment to resettling at least 10,000 people from around the world every year.
Photo credit: Rob Carver