Our Refugee Welcome Centre is open at Malcolm X Community Centre, City Road, St Paul’s, Bristol, BS2 8YH (map):
Wednesday 10.00 – 12.30 with English classes, creche and AID – help with solicitors, housing, money problems.
Thursday 10.00 – 3.00 with hot lunch and AID - help with solicitors, housing, money problems; computer class and creche (until 12.30); sign up for bike project.
Friday 10.00 – 12.30 with English classes and creche.
Everyday there are hot drinks, snacks,games, arts and someone friendly to talk to.
All services are free and delivered by volunteers.
The Welcome Centre supports the physical and mental well-being of its members, with friendship, information, support and advocacy.
Bristol Refugee Rights opens a drop-in Welcome Centre three days a week for our members. The Welcome Centre is at the heart of what we do. The Welcome Centre is often referred to as a ‘home away from home’, a community or a family by our members. It is held in a large hall, with a friendly reception team, hot drinks and snacks, board games, arts and crafts activities, a hot meal once a week and and a ‘free shop’ with clothing and other items.
The priorities for the main hall are to provide a space for our members to meet people, make friends, and generally be treated as human beings amongst equals. It is also the hub from which we can refer people on to our English classes, our Advocacy and Information Desk, (AID), volunteering opportunities and other activities and services.
Our members are all either in the asylum process, (at whatever stage) or people who have been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or exceptional leave to remain in the last two years. When a potential member comes for the first time we do a short interview to establish eligibility, to find out what services they are interested in and explain how we work.
Here are some facts and statistics about the Welcome Centre:
* The Welcome Centre relies heavily on our team of roughly 60 volunteers who do everything from cook meals to teach classes and there is at least one paid member of staff co-ordinating at all times.
* In the year from April 2011 to March 2012, the average attendance was 75 members per day.
* Since 2006 we have welcomed approximately 250 new members each year, bringing our total to more than 1500 members, from more than 60 countries.
* About one quarter of all new members are women and we have a creche for up to 10 children a day.
* We estimate that one in three members are destitute (i.e. not in receipt of any financial support and not allowed to work)
Would you like to visit? If you are interested in volunteering or would like to visit the Welcome Centre please come to one of our open mornings, first Thursday of every month between 10.00 and 12.30.
Dates for 2013 Open Mornings
3rd January, 7th February, 7th March, 4th April, 9th May (note change of date), 6th June, 4th July, 1st August, 5th September, 3rd October, 7th November, 5th December
Please do not drop in to the centre at other times as staff and volunteers will not necessarily have time to answer your queries. It’s best to contact us via e-mail. If you have an idea for a project or event, please also contact us via e-mail.
We are pleased to work closely with all these agencies, many of whom deliver their services within the Welcome Centre itself.
British Red Cross, who provide a range of services including tracing and messaging, hardship and Destitution fund, massage and therapeutic care.
Bristol Hospitality Network, who provide emergency short to medium term accommodation for destitute asylum seekers.
City of Sanctuary, uniting to create a place of safety and sanctuary for refugees and asylum-seekers.
Refugee Action, national charity who provide high quality advice line
The Haven, (NHS screening unit for newly arrived asylum seekers, or those new to Bristol.
Borderlands, Refugees, asylum seekers and people with immigration issues – drop in at the Assisi Centre, Lawfords Gate on Mondays 10am – 1pm (ESOL) and Tuesdays 10am – 2pm with ESOL, hot meal and other activities. Listening support and friendship.
Bristol Bike Project – working with recycled bikes so that asylum seekers and other disadvantaged groups can enjoy cycling