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Our Steering Group is comprised of representatives from local groups, faith communities, schools, universities, businesses, refugees and individuals.

It’s an initiative led by people living in the city who are committed to making Bristol a place of safety and welcome.

We hope to facilitate opportunities for those seeking sanctuary to participate fully in the life of this city.

Our Vision

The Group shares the national City of Sanctuary vision that the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

Our Trustees

One third of our Trustees stand down each year, and (if re-elected) they can serve for up to two consecutive terms before standing down.  They have been asked to say a few words about themselves, and are listed here in alphabetic order by first name.

Caroline Beatty

(Elected 17 July 2019)

Caroline has been involved in supporting the development of Bristol City of Sanctuary from the beginnings of the idea in approximately 2008.  At the time she was managing Bristol Refugee Rights.  As well as providing a creating a Welcome Centre for people seeking sanctuary in Bristol, Caroline joined others who saw the need for an umbrella Voice of Welcome within the city as a whole.  She have served on the management committee of BCoS, and as a trustee since it became a charity in 2018. She have also served a 4 year term as a trustee of City of Sanctuary UK.

Caroline is particularly committed to supporting the voice of those seeking sanctuary to be heard directly in decision making forums, and enabling full participation of refugees in the life of the wider community.

She is currently developing Hill House, a beautiful house and garden near Stroud, as a respite and sanctuary break project for refugees, people seeking asylum and other forced migrants.  See

Freya Mutimer

(Elected October 2021)

Helen Kidan

(Elected November 2019)

Helen Kidan studied international relations, she started working for Bristol Hospitality Network September 2019 as a member volunteer coordinator. BHN works with destitute asylum seekers in Bristol who come from different parts of the world. The last year has posed many challenges for their members as it has impacted them in various ways. Helen is also a human rights activist and works with human rights organisations, across the spectrum focusing on the Horn of Africa but also involved in other parts of Africa.

Katie Bales

(Elected 17 July 2019)

Dr Katie Bales is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol. She completed her PhD in 2015 at the University of Northumbria which centred on a critique of the asylum support system, arguing that the current system is harmful and in breach of various international human rights instruments. Katie has also published research on the issues of: immigration raids; labour within immigration detention; and access to higher education for asylum seekers and refugees. As well as teaching labour law, human rights and ‘rich law poor, law’, Katie teaches a number of migration centred courses at both undergraduate and Masters level. She was instrumental in setting up the Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme at the University of Bristol which provides scholarships to those from forced migration backgrounds seeking access to University, and is the ‘anti hostile environment’ champion for the research group Migration Mobilities Bristol.

Nathalie Jaifar

(Elected 17 July 2019)

Alongside being a trustee of Bristol City of Sanctuary Nathalie works at Bristol City Council supporting new refugee arrivals in Bristol as part of the refugee resettlement programme. Nathalie is from a refugee background.

Paul Hazelden

(Elected 17 July 2019)

Paul has been involved in setting up and running a number of charities and voluntary groups, both faith-based and secular. In Bristol, this has included the following: Bristol Homeless Forum, Voscur (Bristol’s Council for Voluntary Services), Andrew House (Clevedon), Bristol Multi Faith Forum, FareShare South West, Crisis Centre Ministries, Christian Action Bristol, and the Voice and Influence Partnership.

He is involved in public speaking, running training courses and providing advice to voluntary and faith-based groups on a range of topics, including: Helping Vulnerable People, Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol, Volunteer Management, Forms of Constitution, Quality Assurance, Policies and Procedures, Governance, IT, Security, Data Protection, GDPR, Domain Registration, Web Site Setup and Maintenance.

He has been involved for some years with promoting support of refugees and asylum seekers among the Bristol churches and other faith groups and helped Bristol City of Sanctuary become a CIO in 2018.

Ruth Pickersgill

(Elected October 2021)


Souvik Saha

(Elected 17 July 2019)

My name is Souvik and I am an asylum seeker in this country. As a sanctuary seeker without any right to work, I have used my time to volunteer with various charities, to name a few, Bristol Refugee Rights, Bristol Hospitality Network, Feed the Homeless, Plastic Pollution Awareness and Action Project, in Bristol as well as helping South Asian communities as interpreter and peer-mentor. I am also involved with environmental awareness campaigns, homelessness help and international humanitarian issues. I prefer to call myself a humanitarian. I have been involved in humanitarian issues including aid works and helping the backwards in my country of origin since my early adolescent. I have continued this in this country as a student and a community member.

I joined City of Sanctuary National chapter as a volunteer and Sanctuary ambassador back in 2017. I have attended the Sanctuary in Parliament event where I was able to raises the concerns of fellow vulnerables to the law makers. I have also participated in the Sanctuary in Politics course to learn more about the British politics, law making and the art of effective political communication. I was able to apply the lessons of the course in real life in events like shadowing the Mayor and Lord Mayor of Bristol. Since, I was invited by the Mayor to attend various discussions focusing on Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants organised by the City Council. I felt I can contribute to guide this charity to meet its mission and vision with my knowledge, expertise and lived experiences.

It is right that I don’t have much professional working experience. However, I have gained various academic degrees; MA Political Science, MSc International Development with conflict and humanitarian action as well as professional MBA and professional doctorate in Public Health. I was also a University Gold Medallist during my first degree in Business Studies. Along with these degrees, I have also gained various professional certificates and online academic certifications in public health, human services, coaching and aid deliveries. During my university days, I was involved in student politics, representing the student at the University equality and diversity committee. I was also the campaign lead of the Student Action for Refugees at the University of Bath. As a campaign lead, I was able to move the Students’ union to support the cause of right to work for asylum seekers. In another joint campaign with Amnesty and People and Planet group, we were able to university administration to declare its own climate emergency and food waste policy in the campus.

In terms of my others skills, I must inform others that I am an educator. I used to teach people of various ages as a volunteer in the education for all program. Even here I help people to improve their spoken English as part of my community involvement. I am a public speaker too. I have spoken about humanitarian and human rights including racial abuse, feminism, LGBTQ issues, at various platforms in this country as well as in my home country too.

I love Cricket and play that sports while I am fit and well. With the help of few local friends, we opened a cricket club in Bristol to provide refugee adults (male only) an opportunity to learn this sport and platform to sharp those skills through competitive games. I also able to move the Gloucestershire cricket board to start women only cricket sessions before the pandemic. This effort of mine was appreciated by the board with a congratulatory letter.

I also want to inform that I am an active volunteer with the NHS England. I would obviously recommend any able body and mind to contribute back to that organisation as people there are doing amazing job. Since the pandemic, I am sure everyone appreciate the efforts of our medical services.

People may not be aware, but I have also gained various community accolades in this country for my involvement with the wider community. One of prestigious one is ‘Love your neighbour’ award by the Bristol Multi Faith Forum in 2018. I am also going to receive the ‘Friend of the community development award’ by the Community Development Societies’ in 2021.

Susana Askew

(Elected 17 July 2019)

Susana has been a Trustee Bristol City of Sanctuary since 2018 and has also been an advocate at the Bristol Refugee Rights. She is a retired Oncologist and Senior Lecturer in Medical Education at the University of Bristol. She is interested in education and has greatly enjoyed being involved with the Scholarships of Sanctuary program




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